It’s been years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, but Bombardier’s all-new CS100 passenger jet has finally received its Transport Canada Type Certification, the Montreal-based plane maker announced Friday morning.
The certification paves the way for the delivery and entry into service of the CS100 with first operator SWISS sometime in the first half of 2016.
“This is an historic moment for Bombardier,” said Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.
“Bringing to market the only new family of aircraft developed for the 100- to 150- seat market segment in close to 30 years is a standout accomplishment — the C Series aircraft is now well on its way to opening up new opportunities for operators.”
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, a former Canadian astronaut, was on hand to make the announcement at Bombardier’s plant in Mirabel, north of Montreal.
“This is a big day,” Garneau said, adding that certification sends a strong message to investors and potential customers that Bombardier’s C Series — the largest jets the company has ever made — is open for business.
Karl Moore, a professor at Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University in Montreal and a long-time aviation observer, said Bombardier can finally start getting some cash flowing into its much depleted coffers.
(click to listen to the full interview with Prof Karl Moore)Listen
Bombardier’s C Series of passenger aircraft competes with a number of producers, including Airbus and Boeing, which have slimmed down versions of their planes targeting the same market.
“The C Series is an outstanding product, it’s what the call a ‘clean sheet’ design, that five people sat in a room 13-14 years ago and came up with ‘if you didn’t have any constraints what would the plane look like’ and this is what they came up with,” said Moore. “It’s much quieter, much more fuel efficient than the competitors from Boeing and Airbus.”
But Boeing and Airbus have huge fleets out there, making them more attractive to airlines, Moore said.
“This is a critical day for a lot of sales campaigns that Bombardier has for the C Series around the world,” he said. And the lower Canadian dollar makes Bombardier more competitive.
Moore said he expects now more orders to start coming in next year as Bombardier can finally show its product.
“But Bombardier doesn’t want to appear desperate and be willing to give the plane away to sell it,” Moore said. “You want to make sure to have good margins on it and you got to pay back all the billions you spent on developing.”
Bombardier is in much better financial shape than it was six months ago largely thanks to the $1 billion US investment by the government of Quebec, which is taking 49.5 per cent of the C Series, and another billion dollar investment in Bombardier’s transportation division by the provincial pension fund manager, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
The plane maker is also looking at potentially some funding, probably in a billion-dollar range, from the federal government that Bombardier is talking to, Moore said.
All these measures have taken any concerns of bankruptcy away, he said.
“Things will get even better when SWISS is using it, getting actual results from using it as a commercial operation and more and more are made on the production lines,” Moore said. “There is a learning curve when you produce a plane like this, so it takes a while until you’ve got it at its optimal production.”