Canadian planemaker Bombardier Inc. issued a challenge to bigger rivals Boeing Co. and Airbus with the launch a new aircraft range on Sunday.
The C-series aircraft will carry 110-145 passengers and is designed to compete against the aging Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 jets — as well as the 98-114 seat ERJ 190 by regional jetmaker Embraer, or Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA.
Bombardier’s largest plane currently flying, the CRJ-900, has a maximum of 88 seats.
The launch on the eve of the Farnborough air show in southern England marks the Canadian company’s entry into a key market for Airbus and Boeing.
German airline Lufthansa said it provisionally had ordered 30 aircraft with an option of buying 30 more.
Nico Buchholz, senior vice president of corporate fleet for Lufthansa, said what was described as a “letter of intent” could be made into a firm order “possibly this year.”
Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin said the planemaker is also in “promising discussions” with other airlines, which he declined to name. The company has said it needs 50-100 solid plane orders before moving ahead with production.
Bombardier, the world’s third-largest civilian plane manufacturer based in Montreal, said the aircraft would enter service in 2013, and each would cost $46.7 million at list price. Airlines, particularly at the launch of a new aircraft, usually negotiate substantial discounts to catalog prices.
Bombardier said the final assembly site would be at Mirabel, a suburb of Montreal, with the wings made at a site in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It also was considering building the planes in Kansas City, Missouri.
The decision will initially create 1,000 jobs in Canada, rising to as many as 3,500 at peak production, and 800 jobs in Belfast, according to Gary Scott, president of Bombardier commercial aircraft.
He said Bombardier hopes to grab 50 percent of the market for 100-150 seat planes. The company estimated the total market in the 20 years from 2007 to be 6,300 planes.
Scott said governments would finance a third of the development costs of $2.6 billion, mostly in repayable loans. The Canadian government has pledged $350 million, the government of Quebec $118 million, and the British government 155 million British pounds ($246 million), he said.