Bombardier’s sole CRJ1000 prototype took to the air for the first time today, marking the successful start of a flight-test regime expected to last until the fourth quarter of next year. Test pilots Jacques Thibaudeau and Chuck Ellis and flight-test engineer Eugene Lardizabal took off at 10:02 a.m. EDT and flew CRJ1000 S/N 19991 for three hours and 25 minutes. The aircraft reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and a maximum speed of 260 knots.
“We put the gear up, operated the flaps and slats and exercised our new fly-by-wire rudder,” said Thibaudeau. “All systems worked as they were designed to do. The aircraft handled similarly to the smaller CRJ900 airliner so flight crews will have no problem in transitioning to the 100-seat CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft.”
Following a few more flights from Mirabel, the company plans to fly the CRJ1000 to the Bombardier Flight Test Center in Wichita, where schedules call for the first production example to join the program next year in preparation for entry into service and review by the Flight Operations Evaluation Board composed of pilots from Transport Canada, the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Bombardier had hoped to fly the CRJ1000 as soon as late July, but an integration fault involving the airplane’s new fly-by-wire rudder control system forced the company to install a software revision in the flying prototype, forcing delays to ground testing and contributing to the postponement of first flight until early September. Bombardier stressed, however, that as long as the airplane flew by the end of the summer, it would meet its fourth quarter 2009 delivery guarantees.
Bombardier has drawn firm orders for 39 CRJ1000s, conditional orders for 15 and options for nine. Launch customer Brit Air of France has ordered eight aircraft and holds options on an additional eight. Myair.com of Italy has converted an earlier order for 15 CRJ900s to a firm order for the same number of CRJ1000s. Adria Airways of Slovenia has ordered one aircraft and holds one option. Finally, an undisclosed customer has ordered 15 CRJ1000s, and has a conditional order for 15.