Bombardier hopes its new CSeries jetliner will enable it to get into the conversation with Boeing and Airbus. The latter two companies aren't exactly trembling over the prospect.
Bombardier Inc’s CSeries jetliner took flight for the first time on Monday, the culmination of a $3.4 billion program to develop the first all-new narrow-body plane of its size in decades.
Bombardier says the CSeries, designed to carry up to 149 passengers, will be the world’s quietest commercial aircraft. It represents the Canadian company’s attempt to break into the hyper-competitive, larger aircraft segment currently ruled by Boeing Co and Airbus.
The white-and-blue CS100 test aircraft took off from outside the Bombardier plant in Mirabel, Quebec, at 9:54 a.m EDT (1354 GMT) in front of a crowd of employees, media and spectators.
While the thousands of spectators and engineers cheered, the plane rose from the tarmac with surprisingly little noise thanks to its new engines.
“It was great. You could hardly hear the take-off,” said Martin Gauss, chief executive of Latvian carrier AirBaltic, which has ordered 10 of the larger CS300 planes, which seat 130 passengers.
“This was one of the reasons why we bought it, along with the cost savings from lower fuel burn,” he said, speaking by telephone after watching the take-off yards away from the runway.
Gauss, speaking to Reuters by phone, said he would begin discussions with Bombardier about increasing the airline’s order by dipping into its options for 10 additional planes. AirBaltic has not yet decided how many of these options it will exercise.
The maiden flight was expected to conclude shortly after noon EDT, ending where it began at Mirabel. Testing of the CSeries is being closely watched by airlines and other plane makers.
Photo credit: Bombardier employees and guests take photos of the CSeries aircraft prior to its first test flight in Mirabel, Quebec, September 16, 2013. Christinne Muschi / Reuters