CSeries will still be in the air in 35 years' time, insists Bombardier Belfast director
A Belfast boss of aerospace giant Bombardier has said airlines will still be flying its new commercial CSeries jet in 2050.
The wings for the passenger jet - which enters service later this year - are made in Belfast thanks to an inward investment project worth £520m.
Bombardier was celebrating last month after winning a major deal with Delta Air Lines for 125 of the aircraft, and it is continuing a push to find further customers in China and the US.
But the company is also making large numbers redundant from its 5,000-strong Belfast workforce, with 1,080 to go by the end of next year.
Bombardier Belfast director Gavin Campbell said the closely watched CSeries, which was launched last year around two years behind schedule and $1bn over-budget, had staying power.
"Remember, this market is heavily regulated and moves slowly," he added in an interview with Northern Ireland Science Park newsletter Techwatch.
"The CSeries will be in production for 20 to 30 years, and the aircraft lifespan will be between 20 and 30 years."
Among the jet's selling points are its reduced carbon footprint and its quietness.
Mr Campbell also praised Northern Ireland's potential as a manufacturing hub. "Northern Ireland is known as a region for engineering prowess, ingenuity and hard-working people," he said. "Bombardier uses incredible companies in the market locally, such as Denroy, BASE, Datum Design, Hutchinson and Williams Industrial Services.
"In manufacturing, it's about market know-how - that's where the real value lies.
"If you can be agile and stay one step ahead of the latest innovations, you can gain two to three years in market advantage before everyone else starts using it. That's the real intellectual property in manufacturing."
His claims came as it emerged that Bombardier's rival Embraer - whose E-Jets are direct competitors of the CSeries - may challenge state funding of Bombardier by the regional government in Canada.
The Quebecois administration has committed to giving the company a $1bn bailout and Bombardier has been in talks with the federal government, led by Justin Trudeau, for an additional bailout.
According to Bloomberg, Embraer may ask the World Trade Organisation if the financial assistance from Quebec had enabled Bombardier to offer the CSeries to Delta Air Lines at below production cost.
It is understood that the company has yet to receive the funding from Quebec.
Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, head of Embraer Commercial Aviation, told Bloomberg: "We are currently analysing the situation, looking for more information and are already in talks with the Brazilian government. It's too hard to compete with the government of Canada."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously praised the CSeries as an "exceptional aeroplane", but he has yet to commit any money to the project.
Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare told Reuters that China was a major focus for the company as it looked to secure more CSeries orders in a market traditionally dominated by Boeing and Airbus.