Belfast hopes rise with Bombardier’s new jet
C-Series programme could generate a further 800 jobs for Belfast
Bombardier employees and guests watch the C-Series aircraft taxi on the runway for its first test flight in Mirabel, Quebec. Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters
A loud cheer went up from a factory floor in east Belfast as the new CS100 aircraft, with wings designed and produced in the North, took off from Montréal-Mirabel International Airport for the first time.
Bombardier transmitted a live webcast of the first C-Series flight to screens throughout its facility in Belfast to share the “excitement” of the day with some of the team who had helped make it possible.
The Canadian aerospace giant is investing more than £520 million in the C-Series aircraft programme in Northern Ireland in what represents the largest ever single inward investment project in the North.
Bombardier’s current workforce totals 6,000 but it has been estimated that the C-Series programme could generate a further 800 jobs for the Belfast facility and a major employment boost for Bombardier’s strong supplier network throughout Ireland.
The successful inaugural two and a half hour flight test of the C-Series aircraft marked the culmination of a 10 year, €3.4 billion journey by Bombardier to bring its vision for a new commercial aircraft to reality.
Bombardier claims the aircraft, which can seat between 100 to 149 passengers, will be one of the most fuel efficient in its class and offer “unsurpassed economics” in the aerospace sector.
Speaking from Mirabel last night Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager, Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, said it had been “a pretty emotional day” for all involved in the production of the C-Series.
“For the past six years, in particular, this has been a big part of our lives in Belfast. We are just a small part of the whole programme but it is a huge milestone for Bombardier Belfast because it is highly significant of our strategic direction.
“We want to be more competitive, we want to be involved in higher value added programmes and this type of technology – the advanced composite wings – shows we are moving away from our traditional business. We have successfully applied technology to produce large aero-structures in a way that has never been done before and it is a step change in aircraft wing design and manufacture,” he said.