Bombardier's CSeries small mainline airliner could be cleared to operate from London City airport from 2014.
Speaking at the manufacturer's pre-Farnborough air show briefing in Belfast, president of commercial aircraft Gary Scott said that Bombardier plans to certificate the 110-seat CSeries model at City "within one year of production".
"The CSeries 110 will allow European carriers to fly 850nm [1,570km] sectors in Europe out of London City airport. This distance is where major business centres are in Europe," he adds.
Bombardier's board has authorised the company to offer the 110/130-seat, Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan-powered CSeries to potential customers. "The plan is to launch the CSeries this year," says Scott. Entry into service is scheduled for 2013.
Qatar Airways is considering an order for 20 of the type, says the manufacturer, and the aircraft is also being studied by Lufthansa and US operating lessor International Lease Finance.
Meanwhile, questions remain about whether the Belfast plant will receive CSeries work, as previously expected. Bombardier is investing £70 million ($138 million) in the plant, which has been selected to manufacture major components for the CRJ1000 regional jet.
The CSeries wing, horizontal and vertical stabilisers, and nacelles were originally set to be built at Belfast. Final assembly was to be in Mirabel in Canada. However, Bombardier recently confirmed that US sites were being evaluated in light of the continued challenges posed by the strength of the Canadian dollar.
General manager of Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, Michael Ryan, says the indecision is "pretty difficult for the site" as it must continue to develop technology in anticipation of CSeries work without any guarantees.
"We are currently in discussion with the UK government to get the support we need. Bombardier is looking at other options [in Canada and the USA]," says Ryan. He adds that CSeries work "is not a given".
Meanwhile, a proposal to assemble the CSeries in Kansas City, Missouri is being considered. The offer is "very competitive", says Bombardier Aerospace president and chief operating officer Pierre Beaudoin.