Sources: CSeries first flight slips three months

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The first flight of Bombardier's CSeries CS100 has slipped by three months, say supplier sources, while the company has shifted one of its senior leaders to manage customer and supplier relationships, paying specific attention in Asia.

The internal first flight target for the 100 to 125-seat CS100 had been planned for late June 2012. Sources say it has now shifted three months to September or October of next year.

Without confirming a slip in the CS100's first flight, as it has not provided specific guidance beyond a 2012 target, Bombardier says the 63-month development programme allows flexibility to shift milestones as needed and maintains that its final certification and delivery remains "on time" for 2013.

Additionally, the company's senior leadership has shifted vice president of commercial aircraft, Ben Boehm, to the post of vice president of international business.

According to the listing on Boehm's professional Linkedin profile, Boehm has been in the new role since December 2010. Boehm's position will focus particular attention on Asia, according to the Linkedin profile.

Boehm's particular attention to Asia suggests the company will look to expand its reach in the continent as well as stand up a key CSeries supplier in Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC), which is responsible for the fabrication of the CSeries' centre fuselage.

Bombardier says it is "not uncommon for executives to take a renewed challenge. Ben is very much still a part of the CRJ, Q400 and CSeries programmes."

The company has paid particular attention to pursuing opportunities in China and most recently on 3 March the Canadian airframer signed an $8 billion memorandum of understanding with China's ICBC Financial Leasing Co. to support financing of Bombardier's CSeries, Q400 and CRJ products into the Chinese market.

Boehm was replaced in November by Eric Martell, who now serves as senior vice president commercial aircraft, having previously served as vice president and general manager for the company's Challenger and Global business aircraft. Martell said in a recent interview with Innovation Analysis Group that Bombardier had stationed 100 of its staff with SAC, and an additional 200 SAC staff are now stationed in Montreal.

Bombardier says the project management skills for the CSeries product development will be different from the first half of the programme and Martell's "background lent itself nicely to managing our product programs including the second half of CSeries development as we transition from a more engineering bias to a production bias".

The company emphasises that Robert Dewar, CSeries programme vice president, remains at the helm of the programme. Bombardier holds orders for 90 CSeries aircraft.