AFTER years of anticipation and billions in investment cash, Bombardier’s milestone jet the CSeries took the air yesterday.
The historic event was accompanied by huge cheers in Belfast where the pioneering composite wings were developed and drew praise from all quarters including Downing Street as Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the flight as a tribute to the firm’s Northern Ireland workforce.
The CSeries is designed to be the most efficent and environmentally able passenger aircraft in the sectors where it will compete in the 100- to 149-seat market segment.
The maiden flight of the CS100 marks the start of the aircraft’s flight test program leading up to the first customer delivery, and was also the first flight for Pratt & Whitney’s new PurePower engine that plays a crucial part in the aircraft’s performance.
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the flight and emphasised the achievement of the firm locally along with local suppliers that have been involved in the production of complex components.
“Bombardier’s CSeries programme is still the largest ever inward investment project undertaken in Northern Ireland and the first flight of its CSeries aircraft is a major milestone for the company,” said Mr Robinson.
“Having Bombardier facilities within Northern Ireland has been of great benefit to the aerospace sector here. The world-class project has elevated Bombardier’s technological capabilities to a new level and created opportunities for its supply chain in Northern Ireland and across the UK.”
Mr McGuinness said: “The CSeries’ first flight marks a significant achievement in Bombardier’s highly complex aircraft programme. The quality of the wings fabricated in Belfast is testament to the ingenuity, determination and pride of Bombardier’s team.”
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “I congratulate Bombardier on this milestone first flight and welcome the contribution its investments are making to Northern Ireland’s prosperity.”
Bombardier is investing more than £520m on the CSeries programme in Northern Ireland alone and it is expected that the project will generate over 800 new jobs within the firm with more in the supply chain.
Michael Ryan, Baombardier vice-president and general manager in Belfast said: “Given our Belfast operation’s involvement in the CSeries aircraft programme, in particular in the design and manufacture of the advanced composite wings, this is an achievement of which all our employees and our supply chain should be justly proud. I’m delighted that everyone’s hard work and efforts have come to fruition in this historic event.”