June 4, 2013 / 7:50 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Bombardier at 177 firm CSeries orders as Ilyushin approved

By Solarina Ho

TORONTO, June 4 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc’s much anticipated CSeries plane has reached 177 firm orders after the Canadian manufacturer said on Tuesday that a previously announced deal with Ilyushin Finance Co. won backing from the Russian company’s investors.

IFC’s order for 32 CS300 aircraft with an option for an additional 10 was approved by IFC’s shareholders, Bombardier said on Tuesday. The Russian aircraft leasing company’s conditional order was first announced in February.

Bombardier’s new family of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range jets is the company’s big challenge to industry leaders Boeing Co and Airbus. Industry anticipation has been building ahead of its maiden flight, expected at the end of June.

Bombardier’s class B shares rose 1.7 percent to C$4.83 on Tuesday afternoon on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

IFC’s firm order is valued at around $2.56 billion at list price, the company said, and including the additional 10, the contract value is about $3.42 billion.

Bombardier, the world’s fourth-largest commercial planemaker, said this week it would use the Paris air show in mid-June to unveil a previously undisclosed customer and could add new business.

With IFC’s order approval, Bombardier has passed the halfway mark of its goal for 300 firm orders by mid-2014.

The aviation industry is keen to see how the CSeries will do and airlines are awaiting the plane’s first flight to see whether the plane’s technology and efficiency claims hold up.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bombardier announced that Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, is the previously undisclosed airline that ordered up to 16 CSeries jetliners.

The order for 10 of the 110-seat CS100 aircraft, with options for another six, was first announced in June 2011, the company said.

The countdown to the CSeries’ first flight coincides with preparations for the first flight of the larger Airbus A350, which could fly before the June 17-23 air show.

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