by Nicolas Van Praet & Bertrand Marotte. Originally published Friday, December 18th 2015 in The Globe and Mail.
Alain Bellemare, president and chief executive officer, Bombardier Inc. speaks at a news conference in Mirabel, Que., on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. After delays and cost overruns, Bombardier’s $5.4-billion (U.S.) C Series passenger jet has been given the green light to enter into commercial service.
(Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Bombardier Inc. has clinched certification for the smaller version of its all-new C Series jet and says it is poised to launch the significantly delayed and overbudget plane into service in the second quarter of next year.
Company officials on Friday confirmed that the CS100 has received its Transport Canada Type Certification following a “comprehensive and rigorous testing program, which included more than 3,000 flight test hours, the validation of thousands of test results and the authentication of extensive design and performance data.” (Video at Source.)
“This is a historic day for Bombardier” and for Canadian aerospace, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau said during a news conference at the jet’s assembly facility in Mirabel, just north of Montreal.
The C Series is the largest passenger aircraft ever certified by Transport Canada.
“This achievement sends a strong signal to investors and potential customers,” Mr. Garneau said.
The CS100’s larger cousin, the CS300, is on track for certification within the next six months as planned, Bombardier said.
Company officials have said certification should give a boost to sales of the plane; the company has just 243 firm orders and has not booked any new orders in more than a year.
The C Series program is more than two years late and at least $2-billion over budget.
There was no immediate word Friday at the event to announce CS100 certification regarding the status of Bombardier’s request for financial aid from Ottawa.
Bombardier has been pressing the federal government for $1-billion (U.S.) in aid for the C Series program after securing investments from Quebec and the province’s giant pension-fund manager.
Assistance from both Ottawa and Quebec is viewed as helping Bombardier reassure prospective buyers for the C Series airliner that the company and its flagship product are in no danger of going under.
Bombardier took a $3.2-billion impairment charge on the C Series program in its latest quarter and has said it will need $2-billion to bring the plane to cash-flow break-even in 2020-21. Long-term debt stands at about $9-billion.
“We’re making good progress” on the aid request to Ottawa, Bombardier president and chief executive officer Alain Bellemare told reporters.
“Having Canada as a major investor in the program would not only help the C Series, help on the cash side, but also send a very positive message across our aerospace community that we do have strong partners supporting Bombardier and Bombardier is a Canadian icon. We are contributing significantly to Canadian and Quebec GDP.”