Bombardier says it will fly its first CSeries passenger airliner by the end of June and it's already making changes to the original design by squeezing more seats onboard. The company unveiled its first flight test article last week and announced that the larger version of the airplane, which was initially envisioned with 130 seats, then 150, will also be available with 160 seats. The bigger version needs an extra set of emergency exits over the wings. During the unveiling, Mike Arcamone, president of the company's commercial aircraft division, touted the clean-sheet design. "It is not a re-engineered aircraft to put in the market. It is totally a new aircraft," he said in reference to Boeing, Airbus and Embraer who are revamping existing aircraft in the same size range. Bombardier is also the launch customer for Pratt and Whitney's new geared turbofan engine, which is expected to be 20 percent more efficient than existing engines. However, there are some analysts who suggest that potential customers may be waiting for the CSeries to prove itself before committing to orders.
Bombardier has just 148 confirmed orders for the $60-$70 million airliners, although airlines hold options on another 200. Arcamone told the media that attended the opening the order numbers are meeting company projections. He said the company wants 300 orders from 20 customers by the time first deliveries happen at the end of 2014. The aircraft unveiled last week was supposed to fly by the end of last December but supplier problems delayed it until the end of June. Arcamone dismissed the delay and inconsequential. "Five or six months late is not late," he said.