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Bombardier aircraft nears first flight

Sep 05, 2013 | 04:42 PM | Frank Haflich

Tags  Bombardier, CSeries, Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, Pratt & Whitney, Mike Arcamone, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — The maiden flight of Bombardier Inc.’s new CSeries aircraft is drawing near, but no specific date has been given for takeoff.

Transport Canada, the government’s transportation regulation agency, has awarded a flight test permit for CSeries’ Flight Test Vehicle 1 (FTV1), "thereby clearing the way for its maiden flight, expected in the coming weeks," Montreal-based Bombardier said.

"Pending optimal weather, the CSeries will soon take to the skies," Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft unit, said in a statement.

A Bombardier spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment on reports that the initial flight will take place within the next 10 days, possibly by this weekend. The FTV1 has completed its low-speed taxi runs and this week was due to begin its high-speed taxi runs, simulating speeds for flight takeoff.

The first flight of the CSeries, which cost a reported $3.4 billion to develop, has been delayed at least twice. However, the company hasn’t officially altered its target of entering the plane into service by mid- to late 2014, although some investors and analysts view this outlook as optimistic (, Aug. 5).

The company hopes a successful maiden flight will increase orders for the CSeries above the 177 reported at the end of June. While this total isn’t considered especially large by most observers for an aircraft at this stage of its development, the CSeries is seen as a significant user of advanced materials. Outsiders estimate composites comprise more than 45 percent of the plane, aluminum-lithium alloys 25 to 30 percent and titanium about 7 percent.

Bombardier hasn’t commented on these estimates.

The CSeries is seen as Bombardier’s attempt to move up from smaller regional jets to the larger commercial transport market, and pits it against airliners built by Chicago-based Boeing Co. and Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS, as well as by perennial Brazilian rival Embraer SA.

The CSeries is aimed at the 100- to 149-seat market, the company said.

The single-aisle plane is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Corp. PW 1500G engines, and has a range of 2,950 nautical miles.

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