Bombardier may get around severe Quebec winter weather by conducting some flight tests of its new CSeries commercial aircraft in the United States, the general manager of the program said Monday.
Rob Dewar told an aerospace forum that the Montreal-based aircraft manufacturer plans to use its facilities in Wichita, Kan., if weather proves challenging 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.
"If we have a week of solid snow storms here, then it's difficult to get credit because you have to have to 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 the testing will be done in the U.S. because of the similarities with the Global 7000 and Learjet85 business aircraft that are 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 its wings joined to the fuselage in January.
Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) said it has conducted more than 200 hours of ground and flight testing on the CSeries. The CS100 test plane has travelled at altitudes of up to 25,000 feet during test flights that have lasted up to four hours long.
"The results so far are very good, the comparisons are really good," he said.
Dewar said it has handed over noise data to Porter Airlines to help it win political support from Toronto City Council.
"All the results are actually a little bit better than predicted, so we're very satisfied with the progress."
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 be 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 it expects to triple the number of its routes to 90 by 2016 that will cover 60 per cent of China's regional cities.
"We are confident that our fleet of Bombardier aircraft will be a very efficient and reliable asset in achieving these objectives," he said in a news release.