Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Bombardier hopes C Series testing takes off

Bombardier’s C-Series100 takes off on its maiden test flight at the company's facility Monday, September 16, 2013 in Mirabel, Que.


Bombardier Inc. seems to have settled into a smoother flight path these days.

There have been no additional disclosures of major setbacks on the high-stakes C Series new-jet program. The Learjet 85 finally had its first flight recently after a number of development stalls and glitches. Potential liquidity trouble has been addressed through a debt refinancing. And the rail division has booked about $7-billion (U.S.) in orders so far this year.

But for all that, uncertainty still looms about the company's ability to make a success of the pivotal C Series project as well as boost its anemic aerospace margins.

Story continues below advertisement

Bombardier unveils first-quarter earnings on Thursday and the agenda will no doubt include progress reports on the C Series and on the aerospace unit's margin performance.

CIBC World Markets analyst Kevin Chiang said in a recent note that 2014 was supposed to have been a "major inflection point" for the Montreal-based company, with the C Series entering service and aerospace margins improving. None of that happened. The C Series is now slated for entry into service in the second half of 2015 and the aerospace margin target has been revised to 5 per cent from 6 per cent.

(The rail division has had its problems, too, but is quickly getting back on track.)

Right now it's critical for Bombardier to get a fourth C Series flight-test vehicle in the air so it can further accelerate flight-test hours, Mr. Chiang said.

National Bank Financial analyst Cameron Doerksen said business-jet deliveries in the first quarter "fell well short of our forecast" – an estimated 29 compared with 43. "We still expect strong full-year aircraft deliveries for Bombardier, although the target of 200 business jets looks a little aggressive (80 commercial deliveries looks achievable, however)."

On a more positive note, RBC Dominion Securities' Walter Spracklin said in a recent report that first-quarter orders on both the aerospace and rail sides were "surprisingly strong" with more than $9-billion in bookings.

Orders for the C Series and other models could ramp up during the lead-in to the Farnborough International Airshow in July, he said. If management confirms during Thursday's conference call with analysts that the flight-test program is going well and the fourth test plane (FTV-4) is ready for takeoff, "this could further add to the potential aero sales ramps as [Bombardier] heads into Farnborough in mid-July."

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at