Bombardier will proceed with plans to build a 100-seat airplane, the commercial aircraft maker's largest yet, after winning orders worth more than $1.5 billion for the new jet.
France's Brit Air, Italy's My Way Airlines and an undisclosed carrier have placed 38 firm orders for the plane and 23 conditional ones, Montreal-based Bombardier said Monday. Deliveries of the CRJ1000 aircraft will start by 2009.
Bombardier's move follows two years of study on whether to build a plane that seats more than 90 people to compete with Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica, or Embraer, which already has a larger jet.
Bombardier has twice delayed plans for a C Series plane after failing to win orders from airline customers.
"This is a product they had to launch," said Benoit Poirier, an analyst with Desjardins Securities in Montreal. "Embraer's 100-seat jet has had great success, so Bombardier had to do something."
Including the 38 orders announced Monday, the company expects to sell at least 400 units of the plane over the next 20 years, Bombardier Aerospace President Pierre Beaudoin said.
The model will have a list price of about $41 million, company spokesman Marc Holloran said.
Developing the CRJ1000 will cost about $300 million, Beaudoin said.
Bombardier plans to pay for the plane with its own cash flow and won't require government funding, he said.
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