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Bombardier may test CSeries in U.S. to avoid bad weather

Dec. 4, 2013, Montreal - Bombardier may get around Quebec's sometimes severe winter weather by conducting some flight tests of its new CSeries commercial aircraft in the United States, at the same location where its new Learjet 85 business jet is set for its maiden flight in the coming weeks.


December 4, 2013
By The Canadian Press

Program general manager Rob Dewar told an aerospace forum that the
Montreal-based aircraft manufacturer plans to use its facilities in
Wichita, Kan., if cold, snow and low clouds persist at its main testing
centre in Mirabel, Que.

 

Although the flight testing will be
primarily based in Mirabel, the manufacturer plans to use its U.S.
facilities to continue accumulating the required hours of testing before
the aircraft can gain certification.

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"If we have a week of solid snow storms
here, then it's difficult to get credit because you have to have the
right environment conditions," he said in an interview after addressing
Aero Montreal's aerospace innovation forum.

 

In addition to occasional testing of the
first two flight test vehicles, Wichita will be used to test the complex
avionics equipment in the third test airplane.

 

Dewar said that testing will be done in
the U.S. because of the similarities with the Global 7000 and Learjet85
business aircraft that are made by Bombardier and tested in Wichita.

 

He said seven Bombardier
CSeries planes are in various stages of assembly, including the first
aircraft set for delivery, which will have wings joined to the fuselage
in January.

Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey said the new Learjet is "very close to flying."

 

"I'm going there this week to see the
final preparations. I believe that we're very close but problems happen
at the end, we're not going to do anything that is unsafe but we're very
close," he told reporters after a lunchtime speech to the same
conference.

 

Hachey said the smaller end of the
business jet market could be one or two years away from recovery because
of the high number of used planes that make it difficult to sell new
aircraft.

"Until the inventory of pre-owned aircraft goes down more substantially it's going to take a little longer," he said.

 

Hachey also he doesn't anticipate losing
Porter Airlines as a CSeries customer even though approval of a runway
extension at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport by municipal authorities
could take longer than anticipated.

 

He said Porter CEO Robert
Deluce seems optimistic that the proposed changes allowing the aircraft
to use the downtown airport will be approved.

 

Bombardier said it has handed over noise data that are "a little bit better than predicted," said Dewar.

 

Porter said the data submitted to the
city confirm that the CS100 will meet the stringent noise constraints
that govern the airport.

 

"This has always been a key consideration
of the proposal and we're pleased that the results support our initial
position," spokesman Brad Cicero wrote in an email.

 

Meanwhile, Bombardier announced Monday
that China Express Airlines has agreed to purchase up to 16 CRJ900
NextGen regional jets for US$733 million if all options are exercised.

 

The airline's firm order for three planes
will valued at about US$134 million a list prices. It also has a
conditional agreements for five more planes and options for eight
aircraft.

 

China Express president Wu
Longjiang said the airline expects to triple the number of its routes
to 90 by 2016, covering 60 per cent of China's regional cities.

 

Industry Minister James Moore told the
conference that the federal government has adopted recommendations from
David Emerson's review of aerospace and space programs by creating a
national aerospace research and collaboration network.

 

Built on the work done by Quebec's CRIAQ
consortium, the national program will work with the provinces and the
Aerospace Industries Association of Canada to support research in
collaboration with universities and research labs.

 

"We have listened to your recommendations
and . . . taking action based on that report," he said, although no
specific funding was announced for the network.

 

The head of CRIAQ welcomed the commitment.

 

"It means that all provinces that are
interested and all Canadian companies and universities and research
organizations will be able to participate in collaborative research
projects like we do at CRIAQ," said president and CEO Clement Fortin.