MONTREAL, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc expects the first flight of its new Global 7000 ultra-long-range business jet to take place in Toronto next month, a boost for the plane whose entry-into-service has been delayed two years, two sources familiar with the development program said Wednesday.
The November test flight is expected to last longer than two hours, and would be a milestone for the new luxury jet, which is scheduled to enter service in 2018, said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the program.
Bombardier has previously said the business jet would make its first flight in 2016, but some investors and analysts remain skeptical because of delays. The Global 7000 was previously expected to enter service in 2016.
"Investors are concerned about another potential schedule slippage given low visibility on the first flight," Macquarie analyst Konark Gupta wrote in a note to clients on Sept. 20.
Business jets have been especially important for Bombardier earnings in recent years, as the commercial aircraft business lost money and development of the CSeries jet loaded the company down with debt. The CSeries entered service this summer after years of delays.
"All hands are on deck now to make this happen," the source said of the Global 7000. "They want to avoid a lot of the delays that they had with the CSeries."
Mark Masluch, a spokesman for Bombardier Business Aircraft, said Wednesday the Global 7000's GE Passport engines were started on the test vehicle, but would not confirm a November test flight.
"We're progressing very well to fly this year." (With additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by David Gregorio)