Finally Bombardier flies an aircraft that will enter the mainline commercial airliner derby…and it almost immediately gets eclipsed by the first flight of the Boeing 787-9. Welcome to the big leagues, Bombardier.
There was certainly a coincidental component to the CSeries and 787-9 flying first flights on back-to-back days this week. Bombardier had an open window all summer and kept having to push the CSeries maiden flight back. And Boeing wanted to waste no more time getting to the -9’s first flight; after all of the various problems with the -8, Boeing wants and needs the -9’s flight testing program and initial entry into service to go smoothly.
But once it got so the two aircraft would be close in achieving first flight, Boeing executives surely relished reminding their newest competitor—on the low-end of the narrowbody segment—that the Canadian manufacturer is a small player in the mainline aircraft sandbox. Bombardier is nevertheless relieved first flight has been achieved on the CSeries program, and hopes it will lead to a new wave of orders for the narrowbody, even if Boeing quickly stole its thunder.
As for the 787-9, it is notable that Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said the variant will be the “backbone” of the 787 program. The 20-foot longer version of the Dreamliner already comprises 41.5% of the program’s order book.