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Delayed flight of Learjet 85 planned for ‘coming days’

The Model 85 has a planned entry into service of 2014.


The first flight of Bombardier's new Learjet 85 – delayed on Thursday because of poor weather – should "happen in the coming days," Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey said at an investors' conference in New York on Thursday.

The 10-passenger all-composite aircraft – one of Bombardier's major new models in the aerospace segment – has already been delayed due to technical problems and was supposed to have undergone its first flight by the end of last year.

The Learjet 85 is intended to fill a new niche in the business-jet segment between mid-size and super-midsize.

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There have been delays as well in the rollout of two upgraded Learjet models, the 70 and 75.

Bombardier president and chief executive officer Pierre Beaudoin said at the conference that the new C Series commercial narrow body aircraft now has three flight test vehicles in the air and "the flight hours are climbing."

The oft-delayed C Series jet has been slow to rack up test flight hours.

Bombardier is targeting the second half of 2015 for the C Series entry into service.

So far, the company has booked firm orders for 201 C Series planes from 18 customers.

Mr. Beaudoin said on Thursday that Bombardier is "well on our way" to meeting its target of 300 orders by entry into service.

He said the company wants to increase revenue to $30-billion (U.S.) in five years, from $18.2-billion in 2013.

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For 2016, Mr. Beaudoin said revenue is anticipated at between $23-billion and $25-billion, ahead of the current $22-billion estimate of RBC Dominion Securities analyst Walter Spracklin.

Bombardier appears to be relatively optimistic regarding free cash flow in 2014, but a refinancing and debt increase at some point should not be ruled out, Mr. Spracklin said in a research note Thursday.

New products coming to market – including the C Series, Learjet 85 and Global 7000 and 8000 business jets – are key to Bombardier's future growth and performance, Mr. Beaudoin said in his presentation.

The C Series alone is expected to bring in between $5-billion and $8-billion in revenue, while the new business jets add between $2.5-billion and $3.5-billion to total revenues, he said.

Bombardier is also on the lookout for acquisition opportunities in the services segment, which offers stable, long-term growth, said Mr. Beaudoin.

The aim is to have 25 per cent of revenues in five years derived from services, up from about 20 per cent last year, he said.

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