By Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay
(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc
The new C-Series -- Bombardier's ticket into the larger commercial jet market -- is a single-aisle plane, with seating for up to 160 passengers.
It represents the Canadian company's attempt to break into the lower end of the lucrative 100-to-200-seat aircraft market dominated by Boeing Co
Bombardier said on Thursday it had commitments for 388 CSeries aircraft as of March 31, including 145 firm orders from nine customers in eight countries.
The CSeries tests are progressing well, Chief Executive Pierre Beaudoin said in a statement.
The aircraft claims a 15 percent cash operating cost advantage and 20 percent fuel burn advantage over the Boeing and Airbus models. Its airframe is lighter as well.
"We believe (CSeries progress) will continue to help to lift sentiment - particularly if it is matched with new orders going into the Paris Air Show next month," analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets said in a note to clients.
The Montreal-based company is under pressure to meet its targets of 300 firm orders and 20 customers by mid-2014.
Bombardier, which is also the world's biggest train manufacturer, reported a 5 percent drop in first-quarter net profit to $148 million, or 8 cents per share.
On an adjusted basis, net income rose 4 percent to $156 million, or 8 cents per share, in line with analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Total revenue rose to $4.3 billion.
Revenue in Bombardier's aerospace unit, which makes business, commercial and amphibious aircraft, jumped 53 percent to $2.3 billion. Bombardier said backlog at the aerospace unit was $32 billion as of March 31, compared with $32.9 billion as of December 31.
Bombardier delivered a total of 53 aircraft in the quarter, up from 37 a year earlier.
Revenue in the transportation unit, which makes trains, rose 15 percent to $2.1 billion.
The company said it expected an increase in transportation revenue over the course of the year, but did not provide a specific forecast.
Bombardier said the order backlog in its transportation unit was $31.0 billion as of March 31, compared with $32.0 billion as at December 31.
Free cash flow usage fell to $590 million from $695 million a year earlier. Bombardier defines free cash flow usage as cash flow from operating activities less net additions to property, plant and equipment and intangible assets.
Shares of the company closed at C$4.23 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Solarina Ho in Toronto and Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)