Bombardier’s first CSeries airliner took off for up to a 2.5-hr. first flight from Montreal-Mirabel airport just before 10:00am local time today (Sept. 16).

During the flight, the first flight-test aircraft, FTV1, is expected to cycle the landing gear and flaps and check the maneuverability of the fly-by-wire aircraft, says CSeries program manager Rob Dewar.

Takeoff of the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared-turbofan-powered aircraft from runway 06 was extraordinarily quiet. A Bombardier Global 5000 business jet is acting as chase plane for the flight.

The much-delayed flight is a major milestone for the Canadian manufacturer.

Bombardier unveiled the CSeries in 2004 as a replacement for the still-born BRJ-X 80- to 120-seat airliner, but put the project on hold after failing to secure sufficient launch orders. The program was restarted in 2008 with a letter of interest for up to 60 aircraft from Lufthansa.

First flight was planned for the end of 2012, but in November last year Bombardier announced a six-month postponement to the end of June 2013, citing delays in final assembly of the aircraft. First flight was subsequently delayed to the end of July, but missed that deadline because of software upgrades and additional integration work.

After low-speed taxi tests, FTV1 was finally awarded a permit to fly at the end of August, allowing Bombardier to begin high-speed taxi tests in preparation for first flight. Weather interrupted high-speed taxi testing, but was dry and bright today.

Firm orders for the CSeries still stand at around 177 against Bombardier’s goal of 300 by entry into service -- 63 of the 110-seat CS100 and 114 of the 135/160-seat CS300. CEO Pierre Beaudoin says Bombardier is still planning a 12-month test program from first flight to service entry of the initial CS100 variant.