Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin hopes that its C Series airliners will take its first flight in June, demonstrating that the Quebec transportation giant has learned the lessons from Boeing’s difficulties with its 787 Dreamliner.
In an interview with The Canadian Press in Davos, where he is participating in the World Economic Forum, Mr. Beaudoin said that assembly of the first C Series test plane was “very advanced.” The wings have been attached to the commercial aircraft’s fuselage and machinists are ready to install the landing gear.
Another positive sign is that assembly of two other test planes has also begun.
The CEO said he recently saw the progress being made first hand by visiting the new facility in Mirabel, north of Montreal, that was built specifically for the 110- to 149-seat plane.
Mr. Beaudoin, however, is the first to recognize that the development of a new aircraft is an “extremely complex” process.
He says that his main concern right now is not the level of orders, but the timing of the first flight, which has been delayed about six months.
Internal production problems of some components to be made by a key Chinese supplier were also among the problems that caused Bombardier to delay the first test flight and delivery of the plane’s smaller version.
Earlier this month, U.S. authorities grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner following incidents which implicated lithium-ion batteries on two aircraft. Bombardier has selected a previous generation of batteries for the C Series.
The Dreamliner’s composite structure has also caused many headaches for Boeing. Several elements of the C Series, including the rear fuselage, are made of composites, but Mr. Beaudoin said Bombardier has benefited from Boeing’s trial and error, including challenges facing suppliers which are often common to all aerospace manufacturers.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier’s shares were down 1 cent at $4.16 in afternoon trading Wednesday.