UPDATE 5-Bombardier's all-new CSeries makes inaugural flight

Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:22pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho

MIRABEL, Quebec, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc's 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 and Boeing Co .

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.   Continued...