Low-cost carriers are “very interested” in the 160-seat version of the Bombardier CS300 and a “fairly high percentage” of all potential customers are taking a look at the aircraft, Mike Arcamone, President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft told Aviation Week on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual general meeting in Cape Town.

And with interest in larger aircraft growing, Bombardier is “open to customer feedback” with regards to potentially stretching the CSeries further. However, “for the time being” Bombardier wants to focus on getting the CS100 and CS300 through certification and to customers.

FTV-1 (flight test vehicle 1) has begun a campaign of ground tests that will lead to first flight before the end of the month, according to Arcamone. The aircraft has been fuelled in several steps initially and “no issues have been found.” This will be followed by ground vibration tests, engine start up, low speed and high speed taxi tests. “We are not going to fly by the time of the Paris air show,” Arcamone pointed out. But he said he is “very confident about the maturity of the program.” In his opinion, the CSeries has struck the right balance between proven and new technologies.

All of the static testing milestones have been passed and the aircraft has been taken up to close to 150% of maximum load in the process already. The aircraft also has been pressurized on the ground.

Bombardier plans to deliver CS100s in 2014 following certification and around 35-40 in 2015. The ramp up is planned to go up to 100-120 aircraft annually, although Arcamone does not say when that goal is to be met.