The first flight of the new Bombardier CSeries -- the wings of which were invented, designed and built in Belfast -- is just days away.
The regional jet was launched in 2008 and the CS100 FTV1 -- flight-test vehicle one -- is scheduled to perform its maiden flight at Mirabel in Canada in the last week of June, six months later than first announced. CS300, the larger CSeries model of more than 130 seats, is starting to be worked on at Bombardier's Belfast works.
The firm, which is the world's third largest aircraft manufacturer, heralds the CSeries as the world's first all-new, single-aisle airliner in 26 years since the introduction of the Airbus 320.
Bombardier bosses have rejected criticism of the delay, pointing out that main rivals Airbus' A380 double-decker jumbo carrier was years late and billions of euros over-budget, and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner continues to have serious developmental problems that have so far delayed the program by nearly four years.
Another competitor to the CSeries -- the Airbus A350, which launched in 2006 -- undertook its first flight last week.
The president of Bombardier Inc's Bombardier Aerospace group, Guy Hachey, defended the amount of CSeries sales.
"People are critical of us because we haven't sold thousands of them," he said. "But we're in it for the long haul. I was asked recently if we're still going to be making CSeries in 2025. Absolutely, and lots of them."
"Our history as a company is that we pick a niche, we develop the right product.
"We believe the CSeries is going to be the same."