Bombardier Inc.’s chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin is standing by his targets for the company’s C Series jet project and says Bombardier has proven doubters wrong before.
“It’s okay that people are asking questions and it’s okay for people to say, ‘Can Bombardier really be successful in mainline [aircraft]?’ We’ve done it before,” Mr. Beaudoin said after delivering a speech in London on Thursday. He cited the company’s successful launch of several business jets, such as the Global Express. “I’m disappointed sometimes when there is speculation about our flight tests [for the C Series], but, you know, what can I do? That’s what people do. I focus on what we have to do.”
Bombardier began flight tests on the C Series medium-range jets in September and the company hopes to deliver the first planes in a year. Some analysts have questioned the slow pace of the testing – roughly 190 hours have been completed so far out of the 2,400 required for certification – and there are doubts the deadline can be met. There have also been questions about the number of orders for the plane, with some analysts doubting Mr. Beaudoin’s target of 300 orders by next September.
On Thursday, Mr. Beaudoin stood by his forecast. He noted that the company has 177 orders so far and “we still have a good year to go before our first delivery.”
“We’re in good shape to get to 300,” he said. “Just look at the options linked to the 177, it takes us up to 400. So [to get to] 300, it just takes a few options and a few new orders.”
As for the testing, Mr. Beaudoin said it is going well and so far there have been no surprises. “The best kind of test we can have is if we learn nothing out of the 2,400 hours that we are going to fly and so far we’re learning nothing. So that’s good.” He added that the company still has to assess when to start producing planes while the testing is still taking place. “I want to take the time to evaluate that properly,” he said.
When asked if Bombardier was using steep discounts to close sales, Mr. Beaudoin hinted that Bombardier’s big competitors, Airbus SAS and Boeing Co., were doing the same thing. “Airbus and Boeing were not going to let a new player in mainline come in and be welcomed,” he said. “So they are playing all the cards they’ve got. That’s fine. We planned it this way. But when you have the right product, the right technology, the product prevails in the end.”
During a question-and-answer session following his speech, Mr. Beaudoin was asked about possible new ventures for Bombardier. He said the company is working with auto makers on a new wireless-charging system for electric cars. Bombardier has already developed an underground induction system that charges electric buses at bus stops. The system removes the need for plugs and charging cords, and allows a bus to carry smaller batteries that give it enough power to get from stop to stop. It is being tested in Germany in a few months.
Mr. Beaudoin said the company is working on a similar system that could be installed in household garages, meaning an electric car would park over a wireless charging pad. “I think there’s a great potential there and the car manufacturers are coming to us to partner to develop this,” he said.