More Delays for CRJ1000

 - December 3, 2009, 9:37 AM

Bombardier’s CRJ1000 program now appears unlikely to receive Canadian and EASA certification before the second half of next year–a delay of at least another three months–after a second software “glitch” grounded all test flying in September, Bombardier Aerospace COO Guy Hachey said today during the company’s third-quarter earnings call. Hachey said Bombardier plans to resume flying its pair of CRJ1000 test articles “shortly after Christmas,” at which time it will still need to complete roughly 30 percent of its testing regime.

The first software problem, first revealed during early summer, delayed planned certification from late this year to Bombardier’s first fiscal quarter of next year, which runs from February 1 to April 30. That so-called glitch involved the airplane’s new control-by-wire rudder system. “At the time we thought we had found the root cause, we did put some fixes in place and we experienced another [glitch] almost a month and a half later [at the end of August] similar to the one we had earlier,” said Hachey.

“Obviously, we did not get the root cause,” he added. “At that point we put together our most seasoned people outside of the program to make a full assessment of the problem, and we have determined the root cause.”

A resolution will require some further software changes, said Hachey. “We’re in the process now of going through some very thorough simulation to make sure that what we put in place will be the final fix…Unfortunately, it is causing a delay and we’re very unhappy with that.”

Bombardier continues to work with the program’s two customers–France’s Brit Air and Spain’s Air Nostrum–to find “alternative solutions for them,” said Hachey. Financial penalties, said the Bombardier COO, are not “greatly material.” However, Bombardier will feel an effect from a cash-flow perspective because it will continue to build production aircraft while it finishes flight testing. “We’ll be building aircraft in Q1 and Q2 and not delivering aircraft,” said Hachey. “So it will be taking up working capital to do that, but it is how we will be able to deliver all these aircraft once we get to the second half.”