Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin says he believes the Montreal aircraft maker will have 300 orders of its CSeries jet in hand before the new aircraft completes flight testing next year.
That’s the goal Bombardier has set for sales of the new aircraft, which has been nine years and $3.9 billion in development.
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“I think we’re in a very good position. If you look at firm orders and options, we’re at 420. We’ve got more customers coming on board. I think we’re really well positioned to get 300,” Beaudoin said in an interview with CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange.
On Wednesday, Bombardier announced Iraqi Airways has placed a firm order to purchase five of Bombardier's CSeries aircraft with options for 11 additional CS300s.
The deal, made at the Dubai Airshow, is potentially worth up to $1.26 billion US, if all 16 planes are purchased. It brings firm sales up to 182.
The CSeries is a mainline midrange jet, a new market for Bombardier, which is better known for its regional jet.
Beaudoin calls the jet a game changer for the airline industry, offering 20 per cent better fuel efficiency, with potential to cut costs for the airlines, who are always looking to trim margins.
On Tuesday the company announced it had brought in Raymond Jones as chief salesman for the CSeries, replacing Chet Fuller.
There have concerns about the long delays in developing the CSeries, with ratings service DBRS announcing a downgrade this month on Bombardier debt over concern about delays in flight testing.
Beaudoin said the testing phase of development is unlikely to yield any surprises.
“It’s not about designing the airplane any more. It’s going to verify what we have done. Basically, during the test program, with all the tools we use today, we should learn very little during the test. So its a place where we can predict quite accurately what will happen,” he said.
“It’s a new segment of market so to be sure that we position our product appropriately at the beginning is important,” he told CBC.
He estimates Bombardier will be making the CSeries over the next 20 years, with revenue of $500 million to $1 billion annually.
“It will take several years in production before it contributes like we expect,” Beaudoin said.
The CSeries is undergoing a year of flight testing with delivery of the first CS100 airplane set for delivery in about a year. Delivery of the first CS300 is slated for 2015.