Bombardier is looking at several scenarios for the rest of the CSeries flight-test program and their schedule implications, but will only come to conclusions over the next few months, says President and CEO Pierre Beaudoin. Beaudoin, however, declined to confirm if there will be another delay in testing beyond what has already been announced.
“We are evaluating what is the right decision from an investment perspective and for everybody involved,” he said yesterday during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Bombardier is deciding between a tight flight-test schedule, which would require using more prototypes at the same time, or using fewer, which would require a longer flight-test program but limit the cash drain incurred by the company.
“All of this is being discussed with many stakeholders and we are trying to get to the best financial result for everybody,” Beaudoin said.
Bombardier’s plan always has been to deliver the first aircraft 12 months after the Sept. 16 first flight, but that timing now looks increasingly doubtful. Many investors believe the first CS100 will be delivered in the first quarter of 2015, at the earliest.
The company conducted the fourth test flight with its first CSeries prototype on Oct. 30. The calibration flight lasted 1.5 hr. and Beaudoin stressed that the flight-test program is going according to plan. Following first flight, the prototype flew again on Oct. 1 and then again on Oct. 3. The third flight took the aircraft to 25,000 ft. and Mach 0.60.
The hiatus of more than three weeks had always been planned, said Beaudoin, and was used to complete software updates and vibration tests that had not been concluded prior to first flight. “We are where we thought we would be,” Beaudoin said.
FTV-2, the second flight-test aircraft, is expected to fly “in the coming weeks,” but Beaudoin did not say if that meant by year-end.
And in spite of the slow pace of new orders, Beaudoin claims to be confident about the aircraft’s sales prospects. “We feel good about reaching our target of 300 orders at entry into service,” ne noted. Bombardier now has 177 combined orders for the CS100 and CS300.