The Montreal-based company, which reports in U.S. dollars, earned 10 cents per share for the period ended March 31.
That compared with net income of $220 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.
Revenues were $3.5 billion, down from $4.7 billion last year.
Adjusting for one-time costs and a lower tax rate, the profit was about eight cents per share in the quarter this year.
Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) was expected to earn 10 cents per share in adjusted earnings on $4.56 billion of revenues, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
"As anticipated, we had lower revenues in the first quarter," said president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin.
"At aerospace, the entry into service of the Vision Flight Deck on the Global 5000 and Global 6000 aircraft and the resulting transition, as well as lower deliveries of commercial aircraft, had an impact on our revenues," he said in a statement.
Still, he said the transportation giant was able to contain costs. And its aerospace backlog increased to $23.3 billion with a "solid level" of new business jet orders and the beginning of momentum in commercial aircraft orders.
The aerospace division earned $91 million on $1.5 billion of revenues in the quarter. That compared to $141 million on $2.2 billion of revenues last year.
It delivered 37 aircraft, compared with 61 last year and received 68 net orders, compared with 86 for the three-month period ended April 30, 2011.
Bombardier recorded 40 business jet orders and 28 commercial plane orders, including an improving presence in emerging markets.
"We're making good progress on our development programs as we target the first flight of the CSeries aircraft by the end of this year, and we're in an excellent position in the rail transportation market," Beaudoin added.
Overall pre-tax earnings (EBITDA) decreased to $215 million from $312 million a year earlier, causing its margin to fall 0.6 percentage points to 6.1 per cent.
The total backlog was $55.2 billion and it had $3.2 billion of cash and equivalents.
The railway division earned $124 million on $2 billion of revenues in the quarter, compared with $171 million on $2.5 billion of revenue in the prior year.
The results were affected by the completion of some contracts, mostly in Asia-Pacific, and the ramp-up of deliveries on complex new orders.
Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said the weak results had largely been expected.
"We had previously cautioned that the first quarter would be soft, which turned out to be the case," he wrote in a report.
But Joseph Nadol of JP Morgan said the results were disappointing even relative to his lower expectations, mainly due to weakness in Transportation.
"But the bar was low."
Benoit Poirier of Desjardins Capital Markets agreed the results were disappointing.
"We expect a negative reaction to the stock today, but note that regional aircraft order momentum is improving and development of the CSeries and Learjet 85, which is key for Bombardier's future, are both on track," he wrote.
On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Bombardier's shares fell 14 cents, or 3.7 per cent, to C$3.55 in morning trading. Over the past year, the shares have fallen from a peak of $7.25.