UPDATE 1-Bombardier's first CSeries variant wins Transport Canada certification

(Adds Garneau comment on certification, background)

MONTREAL, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Canada’s Bombardier Inc received certification on Friday for its CSeries 110-seater plane, a milestone that could boost airline confidence in an aircraft program that has not had a sale in more than a year.

Transport Canada, the program’s primary regulator, has certified the smaller of the two CSeries planes, the CS100, said Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

It is the largest passenger aircraft ever certified by Transport Canada, Garneau said at Bombardier’s Mirabel facility, which is located north of Montreal.

Certification comes after the promise of a $1 billion dollar cash infusion in October from the Quebec government for a nearly 50 percent stake in the CSeries, which is years late and billions of dollars over budget. The federal government is also considering whether to invest in the program. nL1N13D23U

Montreal-based Bombardier still faces the challenges of ramping up production, dealing with any cost overruns or snags on entry to service, and securing new orders to try to recover lost momentum.

The plane’s entry into service is expected in the first half of 2016.

The larger CS300 plane is expected to be certified within six months. (Reporting by Allison Lampert; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn)