Bombardier reaches major milestone with debut of C Series jet
Bombardier's much-anticipated C Series jet has made its debut, with its first customer Swiss Air flying a CS 100 from Zurich to Paris.
Wings made in Belfast by around 400 of Bombardier's 5,000-strong workforce bore the craft on its journey, culminating in a safe landing at Paris Charles de Gaulle at 2.33pm yesterday.
Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager of Bombardier in Belfast, said: "This is another major milestone in the C Series aircraft programme.
"The advanced composite wings for the C Series aircraft, produced using a patented process developed by our Belfast engineers, represent a step change in aircraft wing design and manufacture, and our employees and supply chain should be justly proud."
Before yesterday's successful flight, there had been some turbulence for the C Series project. It was launched two years later than expected, and $2bn over-budget - resulting in the Canadian company negotiating a $1bn funding boost from the regional government in Quebec.
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey, who is a vice chairman of Westminster's all-party parliamentary group on aerospace, said he was impressed with the craft after exploring it during Farnborough Air Show, which took place this week.
"The windows are bigger than its Boeing 737 and Airbus A 319 competitors," he said. "It has super-efficient engines, much bigger locker space and more room per passenger per seat."
He said his party had first become involved with the C Series 14 years ago when he lobbied the then-Chancellor Gordon Brown for financial support.
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said: "This success affirms Northern Ireland's critical role in the successful execution of the C Series programme spanning a period of eight years since its launch at Farnborough Air Show in 2008."
The C Series has now attracted 370 orders, including an order for 125 C S100 from Delta Airlines in the US announced in April.
While many manufacturers were unveiling new orders during Farnborough Air Show this week, there were no new deals for Bombardier. But its president of commercial aircraft Fred Cromer has said he is confident more orders will come over the remainder of this year.