Bombardier's long-awaited CSeries has made its debut at the Paris Air Show after a long and difficult period for the Canadian transportation group. But will the aerospace industry’s newest single-aisle passenger jet eventually bring much-needed orders? Ivor Bennett reports from Paris.
It's been a long time coming, but the new kid is finally on the block. Bombardier's CSeries hoping to rise above its problems as it makes its debut at this year's Paris Air Show. A make or break moment? Apparently not, says the project's Vice President Robert Dewar. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERT DEWAR, CSERIES VICE PRESIDENT, BOMBARDIER, SAYING: "These are long-cycle programmes. You know aircraft can fly 30, 40 years, so it's really about consistently selling and promoting and advancing the aircraft. So one individual show is not crucial in the overall picture." A single-aisle aircraft, Bombardier is hoping to capture half the global market for 100-150 seaters. So far though it only has 243 orders - the reality is they need a whole lot more. At 5.4 billion dollars, the project is more than 50 percent over budget And the company is desperately seeking cash. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "It's the controls in here that Bombardier hopes will help sell this plane. All the technology has been integrated onto one system, with larger screens, things like navigation at the click of a mouse. Everything designed to make it easier to fly." There's also the fuel economy Supposedly 20 percent more efficient than existing aircraft. But the product it seems, is not the problem. When you're up against Boeing and Airbus, it's all about money. Teal Group aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia suggesting a recent change at the top may help them turn the corner. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD ABOULAFIA, AVIATION ANALYST, TEAL GROUP, SAYING: "The most important thing about the new CEO is that he realises they've got this need to get the balance sheet back in a position where they can make commercially aggressive deals. That takes billions. Hence new debt, new equity, perhaps the possible flotation of part of its transportation division on the market to access billions more. If they can do that and restore their financial health, this aircraft has a chance." Lufthansa's Swiss is still the only marquee customer to sign up so far and that's after 8 years on the market. Still waiting for their first deal here in Paris, it seems the CSeries may prove too little, too late.