Bombardier's CSeries passes ground safety tests before first flight

Thu May 30, 2013 2:29pm EDT
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TORONTO May 30 (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc said its all-new CSeries commercial aircraft passed a crucial milestone, completing a series of ground tests essential to obtaining flight certification ahead of its maiden flight at the end of June.

The single-aisle CSeries, the Canadian plane maker's $3.4 billion challenge to industry leaders Boeing Co and Airbus, performed the last of seven Safety of Flight (SOF) tests in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, the company said.

Orders for the CSeries have been lackluster so far as airlines await the first flight to see if the plane's technology and efficiency claims hold up. Bombardier has firm orders for 145 planes; its goal is 300 by mid-2014, when the CSeries is scheduled to enter service.

Bombardier has declined to give a firm date for the maiden flight but reaffirmed its end-of-June target during a conference call with analysts earlier this month.

The CSeries is a family of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range jets that will carry 110 to 160 passengers.

The safety tests were conducted on the Complete Airframe Static Testing, or CAST, a giant metal structure that encases the airframe and evaluates the jet's static strength and integrity by measuring how it handles flight maneuvers, landing, take-off, in-flight and ground conditions.

While flight safety tests are done, structural static testing on the CSeries - Bombardier's largest commercial jet - will continue. Over the next two and half years, the aircraft will be subjected to more than 90,000 rounds of testing, simulating 30 years in operation, Bombardier said.