Bombardier's prototype CRJ1000 NextGen regional jet today made its successful inaugural flight from the Bombardier facility at Mirabel, Quebec.

The flight took off at 1002 and lasted three hours and 25 minutes. It reached an altitude of 30,000ft (9,144 m) and a maximum speed of 260 knots (481 km/h).

"We put the gear up, operated the flaps and slats and exercised our new 'fly-by-wire' rudder," says Jacques Thibaudeau, one of the pilots who crewed the aircraft.

"All systems worked as they were designed to do. The aircraft handled similarly to the smaller CRJ900 airliner so flight crews will have no problem in transitioning to the 100-seat CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft."

Following a few more flights from Mirabel, the prototype CRJ1000 will be flown to the Bombardier flight test centre in Wichita, Kansas where, next year, it will be joined by the first production CRJ1000 to prepare for entry into service and review by the flight operations evaluation board. The board is composed of pilots from Transport Canada, the US FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The 100-seat aircraft is expected to enter commercial service in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news