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Bombardier's CSeries jet is days from sealing approval

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 18/12/2015

Bombardier’s troubled CSeries
Bombardier’s troubled CSeries

Bombardier's beleaguered CSeries passenger jet could get its final certification and approval within days, it is understood.

It means that Bombardier's CS100 jet could be flying for Swissair as early as the middle of next year.

Regulatory approval for the CS300 variant of the passenger plane is also set to come mid 2016.

The prospect of increased orders meeting the global demand for new aircraft is likely to follow with the news of the imminent approval.

Once the CSeries passenger jet is certified by Canadian aviation authorities, the 243 aircraft ordered so far will be phased into commercial service.

The certification sign-off - which passes the aircraft fit in all aspects of airworthiness - has been speculated on in recent weeks.

Sources in Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed this week that the approval would be forthcoming, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said: "We're on the cusp of getting certification. We always said it would be before the end of the year. Parties are aligned to meet that target."

And a spokeswoman for Bombardier in Belfast yesterday confirmed that the company was waiting on the regulator's final review after the aircraft successfully passed "rigorous flight testing".

"All we can say is that we are still waiting on the certification, but the company was delighted to learn from the regulatory authorities who recently visited us to inspect our wings that we had set a new standard due to the construction quality," she said.

Canadian-owned Bombardier is Northern Ireland's biggest manufacturer and one of our largest employers with 5,500 skilled workers.

But despite its earlier upbeat predictions, it has been struggling with securing sales for its long-delayed CSeries. While the narrow-bodied aircraft has received 243 orders so far, that is lower than the company's initial target of 300. Bombardier recently warned that it faced a "serious financial crisis" and planned to reduce its operating costs in Belfast by a fifth over two years.

A pay freeze for next year and new pay and conditions for its workers are currently being negotiated.

However, Michael Ryan, the company's vice-president and general manager, recently pledged that there was no threat to its Belfast operations after the manufacturer received a £660m ($1bn) bailout from the Canadian government.

He referred to the Belfast plant as "moving up the value chain" due to the local highly skilled workforce.

Belfast's role in the CSeries has also increased significantly, from initially being tasked to work only on the wing sections of the jet.

Last month the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the workforce here produced between 15 and 20 fuselage mid-sections for the aircraft as work was transferred from the company's manufacturing partner in China to east Belfast.

The news will also be welcomed by many smaller family-run engineering firms which supply Bombardier.

Economist Andrew Webb, managing director of Webb Advisory, said: "The sales process should be easier now that they have a fully endorsed, safe product to sell.

243

aircraft will now be phased into commercial service

£660m

bailout received from the Canadian government

Belfast Telegraph

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