September 6, 2013 / 9:46 PM / 6 years ago

Bombardier CSeries plane runs high-speed taxi trials; first flight looms

A security guard looks on as Bombardier unveiled its CSeries aircraft at a news conference at its assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

TORONTO (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc’s (BBDb.TO) new CSeries aircraft completed high-speed taxi trials on Friday as anticipation mounted that the narrow-body plane could make its inaugural flight within the next week or so.

The 100- to 149-seat CSeries is the first newly designed narrow-body plane in its category in decades and is Bombardier’s attempt to break into an extremely competitive market dominated by Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing Co (BA.N).

Bombardier released on Friday a video of its CSeries taxi trial on a runway in Mirabel, Quebec. The test is the last of the main important ground tests before first flight.

High-speed taxi runs are expected to go up to 120 knots and need to be conducted in optimal weather, good wind conditions and a dry runway, the company said on its CSeries website on Friday. The company is planning a few more taxi runs and landing gear tests.

Sources indicated earlier this week that the CSeries could be ready to fly as early as this weekend. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly. But final ground tests and weather remained the biggest factors determining the exact timing of the first flight.

The Montreal-based plane and train maker has said the CSeries jets will be lighter and more efficient than other aircraft in its class, both in cost and fuel.

The company has repeatedly declined to comment on the date for the first flight, which will offer clues on whether the new plane will live up to Bombardier’s promises.

The first flight, which has been delayed three times, will be closely watched by the industry. Airlines looking to buy new planes are waiting to see if Bombardier’s efficiency claims prove true while competitors will be eyeing the performance of the plane’s new generation Pratt & Whitney engine. Pratt is a unit of Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. (UTX.N)

Environment Canada forecasts on Friday afternoon showed sunny weather for Sunday and Monday in Mirabel, where the jet would be taking off.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; editing by Janet Guttsman and Matthew Lewis

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