NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc will begin tearing down the engine of its CSeries jetliner on Sunday to investigate its failure during maintenance testing this week, an aviation journal reported, heightening the risk of delay in producing the model for market.
“We don’t believe at this point it (the failure) impacts entry into service,” Bombardier Aerospace President and Chief Operating Officer Guy Hachey was quoted as saying by the Aviation Week publication.
But “if it lasts a long time, of course it will,” he said.
The new CSeries jetliner suffered an “engine-related incident” during stationary maintenance testing on Thursday and Bombardier said on Friday it was investigating the incident with Canadian authorities and engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.
Bombardier is spending billions to develop the CSeries, which will compete in the narrow-body jet market with Boeing Co’s 737 MAX as well as the Airbus A320neo. It unveiled the plane more than a year ago to fanfare and high expectations, but has struggled with delays and slow sales.
The plane’s first flight last September was more than nine months behind schedule. In January, Bombardier pushed out the date of the CSeries’ entry into service to the second half of 2015, the same target Airbus has for the A320neo. The CSeries was originally due in service at the end of 2013.
Hachey said “tearing down and failure analysis” on the engine would start on Sunday.
It was not immediately clear whether the engine incident sprang from a production problem that would be simple to fix, or a more serious design flaw that could require more time and money to repair.
Jet engines occasionally fail during testing, while serious problems are rare. Pratt had to redesign a component of a similar engine last year, when tests revealed distress in the hot core.
“We don’t know exactly what happened at this point in time,” Hachey said.
“There has been damage to the engine and the aircraft. From an aircraft perspective we think it is very repairable. It is nothing we are too worried about.”
By being first to market with a new, fuel-efficient narrow-body plane, Bombardier had hoped to capture significant orders, but its advantage is shrinking with the CSeries delays. Bombardier’s shares closed down 9 cents at C$3.69 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday.
Reporting by Barani Krishnan; Editing by Marguerita Choy