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Bombardier hits 500 deal milestone for Q400 and C Series

A plane flies over a Bombardier plant in Montreal, January 21, 2014.

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Bombardier Inc. has reached the 500-plane milestone for both its Q400 turboprop aircraft and its C Series jetliner with three agreements announced at the Farnborough International Airshow.

An undisclosed African airline – which has requested anonymity – has signed a letter of intent to purchase 5 C Series airliner, the company said Wednesday.

That deal is valued at about $365-million (U.S.), based on current list prices, and represents the first C Series customer in Africa.

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In a separate deal, Montreal-based Bombardier says Thailand's Nok Air has converted two of four previously acquired Q400 NextGen aircraft purchase rights to firm orders.

That transaction is worth about $66-million.

In a third agreement, an undisclosed customer placed 7 conditional orders for the C Series and six purchase rights, the company said.

A firm order for the 7 aircraft would be valued at about $553-million, for a total of about $984-million.

The C Series order book now stands at 513 orders and commitments.

"We are well on our way to reach our target for 300 firm orders by entry-into-service, and have already achieved our 20 customer goal," Bombardier senior vice-president of sales, marketing and asset management for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft Ray Jones said.

"The growing diversity of operators in both our traditional and emerging markets who are centring business cases around the use of the C Series jetliners is a testament to the aircraft's unmatched flexibility and outstanding operational efficiencies," Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone said.

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The announcements follow commitments and letters of intent from three customers for up to 44 C Series aircraft disclosed earlier this week and over the weekend.

Bombardier is trying to break into the larger 100-to-149-seat market with the C Series, which bumps it up against giants Boeing Co. and Airbus Group NV.

The C Series is still in the testing phase, although flight tests had to be halted May 29 after one of the engines failed.

The company says the new plane offers fuel and operating efficiencies superior to those of existing airliners in the category.

However, some analysts say there are still too few firm orders for the C Series as well as a lack of marquee deals with high-profile airlines, while rival manufacturers are announcing a flurry of orders.

Bombardier president and chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin says he is confident the company can reach 300 firm orders by the time of entry into service, expected in the second half of 2015, despite several delays and technical problems.

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Mr. Beaudoin said in recent interviews he expects a resumption of flight testing in a few weeks.

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