Bombardier Inc. reaffirmed a target of winning 300 orders for the C Series jet before the delayed model enters service in the first half of 2016, even though it needs to boost sales by a quarter to reach that goal.
The order book should top the promised milestone, with 60 more planes booked, Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier's commercial aircraft business, said as the C Series prepares for its formal flying debut at the Paris Air Show.
"Nobody has a family of planes spanning from 100 to 160 seats, so we think that market is something we ought to dominate," Mr. Cromer said in an interview Sunday at the show, one of the premier forums for introducing new models.
Delays of more than two years to the C Series have given Bombardier time to pry buyers away from the Boeing Co.-Airbus Group NV duopoly in the narrow-body market. Still, it faces questions over when – and even whether – some customers for the current tally of 243 firm orders will take the plane.
Bombardier has brought two C Series planes to the Paris show, which opens Monday at Le Bourget airport. It plans to fly the larger CS300 while the smaller CS100 is on static display. Journalists were able to board a C Series plane in the livery of Deutsche Lufthansa AG's Swiss unit, the first operator.
Mr. Cromer, on the job two months after a management shuffle, expressed confidence about sales as the plane nears service entry. The C Series will have completed 70 per cent of flight tests by month's end, he said, and is still projected to win regulators' certification as being airworthy this year.
Mr. Cromer is part of a revamped executive team led by Bombardier chief executive officer Alain Bellemare. The new leaders are charged with reviving its fortunes after C Series cost overruns led to a 2014 loss, the first in almost a decade at the Montreal-based maker of aircraft, trains and subway cars.
The C Series will be on display in Paris after missing the 2014 European expo in Farnborough, England. The test fleet sat parked in Canada during the British show, grounded for three months by an engine fire less than a year into flight trials.
Those tests are now going well, with difficulties related to a Pratt & Whitney engine glitch resolved, Mr. Comer said Sunday.
Some C Series customers have wavered as postponements mounted. Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. is considering whether to take a 40-jet order announced in 2010 after the airline abandoned the kind of flying for which the aircraft was intended. In April, Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance Co. said it was re-evaluating the purchase of 39 jets.
Both deals are firm orders, according to Bombardier. Among the 14 firm buyers so far, only Lufthansa ranks among the world's top 20 by passenger traffic.
Bombardier has worked on the C Series for about 10 years and expects development spending to be $5.4-billion (U.S.), $1-billion more than forecast a year earlier. The smaller version, carrying 108 to 125 people, lists for $63-million, while the 160-seater is $72-million. Both should enter service in 2016.
While the Canadian company is currently focused just on getting the CS100 and CS300 into service, Mr. Cromer said that within a year or so it will start thinking about a potential stretch to add more seats.