Europe, U.S. certify new Bombardier CS100 jetliner
Bombardier’s new CSeries jet is another step closer to having its first commercial flight next month, after receiving certification in both Europe and the United States.
Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency follows a similar decision by Transport Canada in December 2015.
“They have given the stamp of approval for passengers to fly. It’s been certified to fly in European and U.S. airspace,” said Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera. “Everything is tracking to plan.”
The move paves the way for delivery of the first CS100 plane, the smaller of two versions that Bombardier makes, later this month to Swiss International Airlines, the launch carrier.
Swiss says its first commercial flight will be on July 15, when the plane is scheduled to fly from Zurich to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
Other destinations Swiss plans for the CSeries jet include Manchester, Prague and Budapest in July, followed by Warsaw and Brussels at the end of August, and Nice, Stuttgart, Hanover, Milan, Florence and Bucharest in September as it adds more planes to its fleet.
The first group of Swiss pilots has been trained to operate the all-new aircraft in the 100- to 130-seat range, with additional groups scheduled for training.
Montreal-based Bombardier has struggled to get the CSeries off the ground, with the development project at least two years behind schedule and more than $2 billion (U.S.) over budget.
Sales had been sluggish, but the company finally landed a major deal in April, when Delta Air Lines ordered 75 CS100 aircraft with options for another 50. That came on the heels of an Air Canada order for 45 jets, with options for another 30, though that deal still needs to be firmed up.
In April, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu said the airline was weeks away from finalizing the order.
Analysts have speculated that those jet sales came at a steep discount, with the company taking a $500 million charge next quarter, an “onerous contract” provision, related to orders to Delta, Air Canada and Air Baltic.
That translates into the view that Bombardier sold the CSeries for $4 million on average per plane less than what it costs to make.
Rival Embraer has threatened to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, arguing Bombardier was only able to get the Delta contract because of unfair government support.
The Quebec government has pledged a $1 billion (U.S.) investment in exchange for a 49.5 per cent stake in the CSeries program. Earlier this week, Premier Philippe Couillard said Quebec is on track to finalize the deal, likely by month’s end.
“We are 100 per cent fully compliant with trade rules,” said Bombardier’s de la Barrera, noting the Quebec investment will be consistent with usual equity investment practices of private investors.
“Any comments to the contrary are conjecture or speculation,” she said. “We’re being competitive but we are fully within our business case and fully compliant with trade rules.”
The federal government continues to review Bombardier’s request for $1 billion (U.S.) in assistance put forward last year, but has reportedly sought some commitments from the company, including potentially revamping a dual class share structure.
On Tuesday, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains told reporters in Ottawa that the federal government remains engaged, adding issues include protecting jobs and ensuring the head office remains in Canada.
“As I’ve said before, it is a very important company. We want to be part of the solution,” he said, noting Bombardier is very important for supplier companies, with 180,000 jobs in the aerospace industry across the country.
“Again, it’s focused more on having the right decision that sets the company up for success in the long term, and that’s a priority because of jobs, good quality jobs,” Bains said.
With files from Star wire services