Bombardier on high with £1.57bn deal for 20 new aircraft
Aerospace giant Bombardier has received a much-needed boost with a potential order worth up to £1.57bn for its CSeries100 aircraft, the wings of which are made at the company's Belfast Harbour Estate plant.
A letter of intent has been signed by Bombardier and new Malaysian airline, flymojo, for the purchase of 20 CS100 jets, with the option for an additional 20.
If the order is firmed up, flymojo is expected to become the first customer and operator of the CS100 aircraft in the southeast Asian region.
Based on the list price of the aircraft, a fulfilled order would be valued at approximately £0.95bn and could increase to £1.57bn should flymojo exercise all its options.
The development is welcome news for the Canadian company, which employs more than 5,000 people in Northern Ireland.
Despite being the world's largest manufacturer of planes and trains, the company's financial fortunes plunged in 2014 following its decision to suspend production of the Learjet 85 business jet programme.
The move led to a £0.9bn charge for the firm and 1,800 job losses across its global operations - 90 staff and 300 contractors were made redundant in Northern Ireland.
Last month, a further 130 agency jobs were axed at the Belfast factory.
Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager at Bombardier Belfast, said: "We are pleased that flymojo has placed this letter of intent for up to 40 CS100 aircraft.
"This is a further endorsement of the aircraft's game-changing credentials, to which we in Belfast are contributing with the production of the advanced composite wings, using our unique patented composites process.
"The use of this particular technology to produce aero structures of this size is a world first, and we believe it represents a step change in aircraft wing technology."
Bombardier Aerospace in east Belfast produces major structures for all its parent company's aircraft families, as well as engine nacelles and structures for other international manufacturers. Work on the wings for the CSeries takes place in a purpose-built 6000,000sq ft facility in east Belfast, which was officially opened by Prime Minister David Cameron in October 2013.
The technologically-advanced aircraft will provide operators with an all-new family of single-aisle mainline jets specifically designed for the 100-149-seat market segment.
Benefiting from a clean-sheet design that includes leading-edge technology and systems integration, advanced materials and latest generation aerodynamics, the CSeries aircraft are said to offer an approximately 15% cash operating cost advantage, a 20% fuel burn advantage, exceptional operational flexibility, wide-body comfort and an unmatched environmental and noise footprint.
On February 27, the aircraft successfully completed its maiden voyage and the jets are expected to enter service within the next 18 months.
Bombardier said it had now received orders and commitments for more than 600 various CSeries aircraft, which include firm orders for 243 CSeries airliners.