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Jun 6, 2019

Bombardier’s commercial aircraft evolution, in pictures

Bombardier closer to exiting commercial aviation amid CRJ deal talks


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Thirty years ago, Bombardier Inc. began manufacturing commercial planes with the launch of its Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) program. Now, after announcing it’s in talks to potentially sell the program to Japan’s Mitsubishi, the Montreal-based company has moved one step closer to exiting its commercial aircraft business almost entirely.

With Bombardier poised to shift its focus to the more-lucrative markets of trains and luxury planes, here’s a look back at the company’s storied history in commercial aviation:


Bombardier launched its Canadair Regional Jet program in 1989 with a 50-seat plane, which made its first flight in 1991. The jets in the CRJ Series have a capacity of between 50 and 104 seats. Today, more than 1,900 CRJ aircrafts are used by over 120 operators in 90 countries. The regional jet program once produced the bulk of Bombardier’s revenue.

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Employees march out the new Bombardier CRJ700 during roll out ceremonies, May 28, 1999, Montreal. The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson
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Bombardier employees work on a CRJ200 jet at the company's plant in Montreal, March 15, 2005. The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz
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Archbishop Patrick Ebosele Ekpu blesses a new CRJ900 jet after Nigeria's Arik Air took delivery of two passenger jets at Bombadier's plant in Mirabel, Quebec, June 14, 2006. The Canadian Press/Ian Barrett
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Bombardier’s prototype CRJ1000 NextGen jetliner makes its inaugural flight from the company’s facility at Mirabel, Quebec, Sept. 3, 2008. Image courtesy of Bombardier Aerospace via The Canadian Press


Bombardier launched the C Series in 2008 in a bid to compete with Boeing and Airbus’ single-aisle aircrafts. Despite receiving a US$1-billion investment from the Quebec government, the development of the C Series was delayed for more than two years and went about $2 billion over budget. In October 2017, while in the midst of a trade dispute with the U.S. and Boeing, Bombardier struck a deal with Airbus where the European planemaker would acquire a majority stake in the C Series and rebrand it as A220. Passenger capacity ranges from 100 to 160.

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A Bombardier CS100 commercial jet sits on the tarmac prior to its first flight on Sept. 16, 2013, Montreal. AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz
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Bombardier's CS300, left, followed by a chase plane, right, is shown as it takes off on its maiden test flight in Mirabel, Quebec, Feb. 27, 2015. The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz


The Q Series was known as the Dash 8 Series when Bombardier acquired the turboprops from de Havilland in 1992. After equipping all of the Dash 8 planes with an “Active Noise and Vibration Suppression” (ANVS) system, Bombardier rebranded the Dash 8 Series as the Q Series — Q for “quiet” — in 1998. The Q400 — the only Q Series iteration still being produced — accommodates 82 to 90 passengers. Bombardier sold the program to Longview Aviation Capital for US$300 million last year and the deal closed on Monday. Longview said it plans to relaunch the Dash 8 program under the de Havilland brand.

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WestJet Airlines' staff and family members line up to view a Q400 regional airliner brought in by Bombardier Aerospace to show the airline in Calgary, Alberta, June 28, 2012. WestJet began receiving the Q400 for their regional airline in 2013. The Canadian Press/Larry MacDougal
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A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop does a fly-by at the city centre airport in Toronto, Aug. 29, 2006. The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld