Bombardier said it continues to plan for a first flight of its new C-Series jet in December as it announced a second quarter profit fall.
The world's third-biggest plane maker said it would consider itself on schedule if the first flight occurred within three to five months of its target.
"I'll repeat what I've always said for the last three years, we target the flight at the end of year. This can play three to five months and I would consider that on time. But the focus of our team is to fly at the end of the year," chief executive Pierre Beaudoin said on a conference call.
WATCH THE TIMING
Investors and analysts are watching the timetable because of chronic development delays in the aircraft industry.
Bombardier is investing USD$3.3 billion to develop the 110- to 149-seat C-Series, its biggest aircraft yet. It is currently testing plane systems and targeting a 2013 entry into service.
"Slippage of three to five months for a five-year project of this order of magnitude, to me, would be a successful project," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin, noting that Beaudoin has repeatedly said the December target has a cushion.
"What you want to avoid is a Boeing Dreamliner, where it was two-three years delayed and a massive cost overrun."
Bombardier competes with Brazil's Embraer in the smaller regional jet market and will take on Airbus and Boeing with the C-Series.
It also said work on the two first flight-test Learjet 85 aircraft and the ground test platform is "well underway".
Bombardier stood by its full-year forecasts despite a 12 percent drop in quarterly revenue, as train division declines outweighed strong aerospace results.
It expects 2012 full-year revenue to match last year's, an outlook that implies a 19 percent increase in sales in the second half, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Fadi Chamoun.
The company repeated its forecast for deliveries of 180 business jets and 55 commercial aircraft in 2012 with an overall EBIT margin of about 5 percent.
PROFITS, SALES SLIDE
Second-quarter profit fell to USD$182 million, from $211 million a year earlier.
Revenue declined to USD$4.17 billion from USD$4.7 billion.
The total order backlog rose to USD$56.9 billion as of June 30, from USD$53.9 billion at the close of 2011.
Revenue from the aerospace division, which makes business, commercial and amphibious aircraft, rose 10 percent to USD$2.3 billion as plane deliveries rose to 62 from 56.
The unit, which delivered more business aircraft but fewer regional jets, increased its backlog by 14.5 percent to CAD$25.2 billion from the end of 2011. The EBIT margin dropped to 4.5 percent from 5 percent.
Free cash flow use in the quarter dropped to USD$642 million from USD$1.07 billion a year earlier.