The Bombardier CSeries took to the air for the first time Monday morning from Montreal’s Mirabel Airport at around 9:55 a.m. local time, marking the start of a planned year-long flight-test program involving five CS100 prototypes.
The flight took place on a brisk, crystal-clear day in Mirabel following a week of less-than-ideal weather conditions for flying. The milestone comes some eight and a half months after the date specified by the original program schedule and follows two more recent missed targets, one at the end of June and the other at the end of July.
During the two-and-a-half-hour mission, the first CSeries CS100 flight test vehicle (FTV1) performed a series of handling tests at various slat and flap settings while the crew’s flight engineer monitored test parameters. In-flight maneuvers included a simulated landing and early validation of the flight control system. In a fairly unusual move for a first flight, the crew retracted the landing gear as part of what CSeries general manager Rob Dewar characterized as an extensive set of tests.
Captained by Bombardier chief flight test pilot Chuck Ellis, FTV1 reached an altitude of 12,500 feet and a speed of 230 knots while flying a “racetrack” pattern some 30 miles north of the airport.
Although Ellis reported that the airplane flew exactly as expected, he did acknowledge that he received a “small advisory message” related to one of the airplane’s subsystems. “The message that we saw, if you were aboard the airplane for a revenue flight as a passenger, would not have stopped [the flight],” said Ellis. “We didn’t stop either; we just made some small adjustments to what we planned on doing.”
Now in the third of four phases of the Transport Canada certification process, the CSeries program faces a fairly busy schedule to meet a September 2014 entry-into-service target. Although just before June’s Paris Air Show, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone told AIN that program schedules called for all five test airplanes to fly within about three months of each other, Dewar declined to comment on the plan for first flight of FTV2.
“We’re going to assess the data from [FTV 1] and decide whether there will be any changes required, but so far we’re very positive and we’ll keep you posted on when we’re ready to go with FTV2,” he said.