Place your bets, will we see a first flight at PAS?

It’s surprising when a manufacturer announces a large aircraft order so close to a major air show, such as the one in Paris (starting June 17). Yet, here’s Bombardier announcing Ilyushin Finance Co.’s (IFC) deal for up to 42 CSeries aircraft. It makes you wonder what they have in store for us during the show.

The CSeries is on track to fly for the first time at the end of June. The first aircraft has rolled out of the factory and, like the A350 XWB, it has been assigned a flight test crew.

Bombardier has dismissed the idea that the CSeries will fly at the Paris Air Show (PAS) (a double bluff, perhaps?) but has said to look out for the unveiling of a previously unnamed customer. Hmmm, not so much fun.

So, it’s again surprising that Bombardier recently announced Bahrain’s Gulf Air as a formerly anonymous customer. Gulf Air ordered 10 CS100s, plus options for six more in June 2011, but refused to identify itself at the time.

If it keeps this up, Bombardier may have nothing left to tell us at Paris! Maybe IFC’s order, which is the first outside of Russia, will signal a run of new orders. Otherwise the CSeries may be wholly eclipsed by the A350 XWB, which is also due to take its test flight in June.

Come to think of it, wouldn’t Paris be a great time to see that big boy fly?

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