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PARIS: CSeries ready to fly

The Bombardier CSeries is almost ready to fly. A six-week battery of critical software tests that began in late March revealed no show-stoppers. The machinists in the company's final assembly plant outside Montreal handed over the first CS100 to the flight test team by mid-May. Its first flight still remains on track for late June - just as Bombardier promised when the milestone event was delayed by six months last November.

"We are resolutely focused on holding the inaugural flight of the CS100 by the end of June," says Bombardier chief executive Pierre Beaudoin.

In the interim, the CSeries has made progress on several fronts. While unveiling the first CS100 to the public on 7 March, Bombardier revealed a redesign for the CS300 that raises the standard seat-count to 135 and up to 160 seats in a high-density layout, broadening the small narrowbody's appeal to the growing ranks of low-cost carriers.

Investors seem more confident about the programme. Bombardier's shares are trading about 50% higher than when the delay was announced six months ago.

"From a product development perspective, it looks like it's going actually pretty well," says Ronald Epstein, an aerospace and defence analyst at Merrill Lynch.




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