Lightweight, quiet jet takes on Boeing and Airbus

By Simon Busch, CNNUpdated 18th September 2013
Two heavyweights dominate the high-capacity commercial aviation industry -- Boeing and Airbus.
Now the world's third-largest manufacturer of commercial aircraft is touting an apparently lighter and quieter plane that it hopes will cut into the giants' market share for narrow body, medium-range commercial jets.
The virgin test flight of the Bombardier CS100 -- from the first new family of commercial passenger jets in decades -- took place at Mirabel Airport, in Quebec, Monday.
The 110-seat, single-aisle aircraft (a 135-seat version in the CSeries is also in the works, and a maximum capacity of 149 has been reported) is in the same class as Boeing's 737 series and Airbus 318 and 319 aircraft.
Bombardier is a Canadian multinational company headquartered in Montreal.
Apart from a minor alert going off midair, the two-and-a-half-hour flight was a success, the Age reports.
"The performance of the CSeries aircraft was very impressive," said the new jet's test pilot, Chuck Ellis.
"We couldn't have wished for a better maiden flight."
Quiet, lightweight
Expected to enter service in 2015, the Bombardier plane has two advantages over its rivals, its makers says.
Made of lightweight composite materials, the CS100 beats Airbus and Boeing for fuel performance, most industry experts reportedly agree.
Bombardier says its CSeries planes will also be quieter than any existing commercial jet.
That's probably not because the company has heard the cries of long-suffering residents near heavily trafficked airports around the world, but because regulation increasingly demands controls on airplane noise.
Orders in
The CS100 has already won orders from carriers such as Latvia's AirBaltic, which is buying 10 of the planes.
"You could hardly hear the takeoff," Martin Gauss, CEO of AirBaltic, said after watching the test flight in Quebec.
"This was one of the reasons we bought it, along with the cost savings from lower fuel burn."
There's a good reason why new commercial jet series come along so rarely -- the astronomical cost involved in developing them.
The CS100 had already cost $500 million more than its official estimate of $3.5 billion, Bombardier said.