Bombardier's all-new CSeries makes inaugural flight
By Solarina Ho
MIRABEL, Quebec (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc's (BBDb.TO: Quote) CSeries jetliner successfully completed its first flight on Monday, a key step in a $3.4 billion program to develop the first all-new narrow-body plane of its size in decades that the company hopes will increase sales.
But the new jet still faces an ambitious, 12-month deadline to start carrying commercial passengers, and tough sales competition from bigger rivals Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote).
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft President Michele Arcamone told a press conference on Monday the development cost had climbed to $3.9 billion, but he later sought to backtrack on that figure, telling reporters the company had always targeted costs at "less than $4 billion" and saying that $3.4 billion remained the official estimate.
He said the cost fluctuates due to suppliers, materials and other factors.
The white-and-blue CS100 test aircraft landed beside the Bombardier plant in Mirabel, Quebec, at 12:23 p.m. EDT (1623 GMT) before a crowd of employees, media and spectators.
"It flew very well," said Bombardier chief test pilot Chuck Ellis on stepping out of the cockpit after the flight. "It's a very, very nice airplane."
About 2-1/2 hours earlier, the plane rose from the tarmac amid cheers and surprisingly little noise from its new engines.
"You could hardly hear the take-off," said Martin Gauss, chief executive officer of Latvian carrier AirBaltic, which has ordered 10 of the larger CS300 planes, which seat 130 passengers. Continued...