UPDATE 4-Bombardier unveils high-stakes CSeries jetliner

Thu Mar 7, 2013 6:52pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

MONTREAL, March 7 (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc took the wraps off its $3.4 billion challenge to industry leaders Boeing and Airbus on Thursday, announcing "solid progress" on the development program for its largest plane to date.

Bombardier's single-aisle CSeries planes, promised with seating for up to 160 passengers, represent the company's attempt to break into the lower end of a 100-to-200-seat market heavily defended by its U.S. and European rivals.

China and Russia are also preparing to challenge the trans-Atlantic duopoly over the largest segment of the global jet market, valued at $2 trillion at list prices over the next 20 years.

Bombardier is aiming to capture 50 percent of the 100-to-149 seat aircraft sub-category over the next 20 years - an estimated $430 billion market, said Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

In the meantime, Bombardier is under pressure to ramp up its order book and ensure no delays. On Thursday, company officials told an audience of executives, analysts and reporters that the program met a number of milestones over the last few months.

"We believe today's discussions of the status of various components, tests completed to date and the status of the flight test vehicles should help build confidence that first flight should occur as scheduled in June," said Chris Murray, an analyst at PI Financial.