Bombardier CSeries CS300 takes flight for the first time – Photo: Seth Miller | AirwaysNews
The full story was written by Seth Miller on AirwaysNews.com.
The Bombardier CS300, the newest commercial aircraft on the market, made its maiden flight just after 11:00 a.m. yesterday at Montreal’s Mirabel airport. The larger CSeries variant follows the smaller CS100, which took to the skies 17 months ago.
For Bombardier, this is a significant step forward for a project which has seen its share of challenges. As a “clean-sheet’ aircraft design, such challenges are not unexpected; Boeing and Airbus experienced similar delays with the 787 and A350, respectively. Bombardier’s new CEO, Alain M. Bellemare, described the event as ’œan inflection point’ in the CSeries project, ’œwhere we’re finally reaching momentum and we can go to market with a solid product for our customers.’
The first CS300 taxis – Photo: Seth Miller | Airways News
The test flight came on the second day of the three-day window Bombardier allotted for the event. Initial plans to run the test flight on Thursday were hampered by cold weather, wind, and snow earlier in the week in Mirabel; that weather prevented final pre-flight testing from happening. It was colder yesterday than earlier in the week ’“ probably the coldest first flight ever ’“ but the low temperatures did not prevent the first flight.
With both the CS100 and CS300 now flying, the company is able to aggressively push towards the completion of the flight test regimen and enter the airliner into service. It is also worth noting that the CSeries plan is somewhat unusual in having both types flying test flights concurrently rather than a sequential process of EIS on the first followed by testing of the second. Delays in the CS100 test program can be blamed in part for these circumstances.
A special CS300 ice sculpture to celebrate the first flight – Photo: Seth Miller | AirwaysNews
The CSeries aircraft promises a more comfortable passenger cabin combined with lower costs for the airlines and quieter operations for the passengers and those who live near the airports. While the interior of the CS300 is not yet on display to media, the noise aspect was demonstrated during the first flight departure; the CRJ900 ’“ a quiet plane in its own right ’“ was notably louder than the CS300 flying just ahead of it during the first flight departure.
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The CS100 during test flights – Photo: Bombardier
Bombardier’s in a bad way lately. Their stock has hit some heavy chop, recently dropping 32% in a three-day period. There’s a margin warning. The company is pricing in a “bankruptcy scenario”. On top of that, the stock fell 11% after they announced the removal of their troubled CEO.
The company is ridiculously leveraged. The cost of a credit default swap on Bombardier has risen 500 basis points. There are even serious questions regarding the company’s liquidity.
The Learjet 85 – Photo: Bombardier
This whole mess started when the company announced that it was “pausing” its advanced, composite, Learjet 85 for an indefinite period of time due to lack of demand. Now, canceling a business jet should not result in massive investor panic and questions over the viability of a commercial program. The problem is, Bombardier finances a lot of its projects off of the revenue generated by its business jet division and debt. The CRJ and Q400 program, along with trains, are relatively low margin.
There’s a reason investors are starting to, in the words of one firm “[give] up hope.”
Bombardier is suspending its shareholder dividends and working on raising an additional $2.1 billion in capital.
The thing is, in the paraphrased words of Richard Aboulafia at the Teal Group, these moves display a startling amount of intelligence and transparency. The question is, is it too late for Bombardier?
Bombardier CSeries Flight Test Vehicle 2’s first flight on January 3, 2014 – Photo: Bombardier Aero
Bombardier Aerospace has confirmed that the Entry-Into-Service (EIS) of their CSeries aircraft is now scheduled for the second half of 2015.
Yesterday’s announcement likely wasn’t a surprise to industry watchers and financial analysts, who have believed that Bombardier’s previous ’œone year after first flight’ EIS of September 2014 was overly optimistic and aggressive. The CSeries is Bombardier’s first ’œclean-sheet’ design in decades, with state-of-the-art fly-by-wire flight controls, along with sophisticated, highly-integrated aircraft systems. Bombardier is no doubt hoping that the new EIS schedule will be looked at as realistic and achievable, given the work to be done.
’œWe are taking the required time to ensure a flawless entry-into-service. We are very pleased that no major design changes have been identified, this gives us confidence that we will meet our performance targets,’ said Mike Arcamone, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. ’œWhile the process has taken more time than we had expected, our suppliers are aligned with the program’s schedule and together, we will continue to work closely to move the program steadily forward.’
CS100 FTV2 on a cold, windy winter day at Mirabel Airport (YMX) – Photo: Bombardier Aero