Bombardier's all-new CSeries prepares for maiden flight
MIRABEL, Quebec, Sept 16
MIRABEL, Quebec, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc carried out final preparations for the maiden flight of its CSeries on Monday, hoping to translate its ambitions to shatter an Airbus and Boeing duopoly into faster sales of Canada's most ambitious jet.
Appearing in blue and white livery under broken skies, the jet was due to fly from Bombardier's Mirabel factory in Quebec at 9.30 am (1330 GMT), capping a 5-year $3.4 billion development of the first all-new plane in its class in decades.
Already nine months behind schedule, the maiden flight had been delayed by around a week due to poor weather.
The 110-130 seat CSeries is Bombardier's bet on the lower end of the market for medium-haul jets traditionally dominated by Airbus and Boeing.
Planemakers in China, Russia and Brazil are also eyeing a piece of the market for 100-200 seat narrowbody planes, which is valued at more than $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
Despite soaring demand for new fleets from low-cost airlines and others, sales of the CSeries have stalled at 177 planes compared with about 3,800 combined sales of the latest versions of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families.
Aerospace investors say months of intensive flying will test Bombardier's claims of high fuel efficiency, low operating costs and low noise levels for the CSeries, which is made of light-weight composite materials.
"Bombardier management have been saying for a long time that the relatively small order book will be boosted by the first flight, because that will give potential customers confidence that the product is there," said Zafar Khan, aerospace analyst at Societe Generale in London.
The FTV1 test plane is a CS100 model, which seats 110 passengers in a typical configuration. The largest CS300 model seats 135, with capacity for up to 160.
Monday's planned flight is also a crucial test for the PurePower PW1500G turbofan engine developed by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp.
The same engine family is designed to power several other models including some Airbus jets in future.
If the debut goes ahead as planned, aviation enthusiasts could witness the rare sight of two important test flights in as many days as the aerospace industry turns to lightweight carbon-composite materials to slash fuel bills.
Boeing said on Friday its 787-9 -- the second member of its high-tech but recently glitch-prone Dreamliner family -- could make its first flight as soon as Tuesday.
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