The maiden flight of Bombardier's much-anticipated new passenger aircraft, the CSeries, which was to take place over the next few days, has been delayed until the end of July.
It is the second time that the Montreal-based company has pushed back the inaugural flight of the CS100. In November 2012, it delayed the flight by six months to the end of June 2013.
Bombardier spokesperson Marc Duchesne said Wednesday that the team working on the CSeries met with company executives on Tuesday after they returned form the Paris Air Show and asked for more time to do software upgrades and engine tests.
"We needed just a few more weeks to have everything ready for the first flight," Duchesne said from Montreal. "It's a very short delay for us, and we believe there won't be an impact on the [CSeries] program since it's a 20-year long program."
Software glitch not related to fly-by-wire system
Duchesne said the company is not releasing details about the nature of the software fixes that have to be done but stressed that they were not related to the so-called fly-by-wire system of rudder control that has caused software glitches in some of Bombardier's other planes.
Some analysts had expressed concern earlier in the day that the delay could indicate that Bombardier is experiencing problems with the CSeries electronics.
"While a push of first flight by a month is not material from a cost/development perspective, it will likely impact negatively near-term sentiment and again call into question the readiness of the CSeries avionics and fly-by-wire system," Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets wrote in a report to clients.
Duchesne said the problems were "minor glitches."
"These will be fixed, so we can have a successful first flight," he said.
Customers to get jets 1 year after July flight
Bombardier engineers will spend the next few weeks performing power runs on the jet — basically starting up and powering down the engine — and testing the plane's ability to taxi at high and low speeds.
The company also expects to get its flight permit from Transport Canada, which it needs to perform the inaugural flight. It applied for the permit a few days ago, Duchesne said, and should get it once the government agency signs-off on the final engine tests and evaluates the flight readiness of the aircraft.
The jet has passed the threshold safety tests it needed to in order fro Bombardier to forward with the maiden flight but will continue undergoing long-term safety tests even after the July flight.
"These tests basically never end … because we need to simulate the whole life of the aircraft," Duchesne said.
The first CSeries jets for commercial use will be delivered to customers a year from the date of the first flight.
Bombardier has received 177 firm orders and 211 commitments from 13 customers for two versions of the 110- to 160-seat aircraft. It hopes the new plane will eat into some of the customer base for similarly sized jets from Boeing and Airbus.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier's shares lost 10 cents, or 2.14 per cent, Wednesday and closed at $4.57.