Bombardier's all-new CSeries prepares for maiden flight
By Solarina Ho
MIRABEL, Quebec, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc carried out final preparations for the maiden flight of its CSeries on Monday, hoping to translate its ambitions to shatter an Airbus and Boeing duopoly into faster sales of Canada's most ambitious jet.
Appearing in blue and white livery under broken skies, the jet was due to fly from Bombardier's Mirabel factory in Quebec at 9.30 am (1330 GMT), capping a 5-year $3.4 billion development of the first all-new plane in its class in decades.
Already nine months behind schedule, the maiden flight had been delayed by around a week due to poor weather.
The 110-130 seat CSeries is Bombardier's bet on the lower end of the market for medium-haul jets traditionally dominated by Airbus and Boeing.
Planemakers in China, Russia and Brazil are also eyeing a piece of the market for 100-200 seat narrowbody planes, which is valued at more than $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
Despite soaring demand for new fleets from low-cost airlines and others, sales of the CSeries have stalled at 177 planes compared with about 3,800 combined sales of the latest versions of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families.
Aerospace investors say months of intensive flying will test Bombardier's claims of high fuel efficiency, low operating costs and low noise levels for the CSeries, which is made of light-weight composite materials.
"Bombardier management have been saying for a long time that the relatively small order book will be boosted by the first flight, because that will give potential customers confidence that the product is there," said Zafar Khan, aerospace analyst at Societe Generale in London. Continued...