(Adds potential impact on orders, concern about
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, July 24 Bombardier Inc
delayed the maiden flight of its CSeries jetliner for a third
time on Wednesday, promising the flight "in the coming weeks"
instead of July, a move likely to rattle airlines that have
stepped up to buy the all-new plane.
"This might make people a bit jittery... This is a new
market for them. A lot depends upon the confidence of
customers," said aviation industry expert Richard Aboulafia, a
vice-president at consulting firm Teal Group Corp.
The delay casts new doubt on Bombardier's ambitious mid-2014
entry-into-service target for the CSeries. Aboulafia expects
entry-into-service sometime in the first half of 2015.
The first flight will be the culmination of a five-year,
$3.4-billion development program for the CSeries, a
fuel-efficient plane that is the first all-new narrow-bodied
jetliner in decades.
Bombardier hopes eventually to corner 50 percent of the
lucrative 100- to 149-seat airliner segment with the plane.
The Montreal-based company has announced 177 firm CSeries
orders so far, far short of its target of at least 300 firm
orders by the middle of next year. It failed to firm up new
CSeries business last month at the Paris Air Show, which saw
splashy news and big orders from its competitors.
"We are concerned that management credibility may be
impacted with each subsequent delay, and should additional
issues crop up over the course of the CSeries program, the
benefit that investors are willing to provide could diminish,"
RBC analyst Walter Spracklin said in a client note, but added
that a delay of a few weeks is not material from a cost and
Bombardier shares, which had climbed nearly 11 percent since
it announced a one-month delay last month, fell as much as 3
percent to C$4.92 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday
before paring losses.
Bombardier said that it was in its final stages of testing
ahead of the first flight, but "highly technical" last steps
were taking longer than anticipated. It said it expects to
receive a flight test permit from Transport Canada in the coming
"Not welcome news, but it's still sounds like these are
fairly small tactical stumbles," Aboulafia said. "But it's tough
to tell because they're not exactly being transparent with the
Bombardier said in June it needed more time for additional
software upgrades and that the inaugural flight would happen by
the end of July. The first delay, due to an unspecified supplier
problem, occurred last year.
The CSeries is Bombardier's bid to compete against bigger
rivals Airbus and Boeing. Bombardier says the
plane will have a 15 percent cash operating cost advantage and a
20 percent fuel burn advantage over existing planes in the same
The plane can seat between 110 and 130, and a reconfigured
version of the larger version will be able to seat 160. It is
designed to be quiet, and some fans have dubbed it the "whisper
(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter