More than five weeks since the Bombardier CSeries FTV1 flew for the first time, the airplane has flown only two more times, taking its flight hour total to eight. According to Bombardier, the apparently slow pace of flight testing in no way suggests a new delay, however, and the original goal to win certification and place the airplane into service within a year of first flight remains in place. In June Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone told AIN the company planned to fly all five flight-test vehicles within three months of first flight.
In an interview with AIN last Friday, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft marketing vice president Philippe Poutissou said the CSeries would fly again once engineers finished an upgrade to its Parker Aerospace fly-by-wire flight control system to allow the airplane to operate in “normal” mode. Test pilots flew the airplane in so-called direct mode during the first three flights, without the full aid of the fly-by-wire system.
“It’s been part of the design of the flight test to do that first bit initial assessment on the direct mode, and the next block of testing I believe we will be going into normal mode,” said Poutissou. “So we have to basically roll [out] that software on the fly-by-wire.”
Calling the flight test program “fairly fluid,” Poutissou wouldn’t estimate when the airplane would fly again. “They’ve been doing a number of things on the ground and I guess when they complete the tasks that they need to do to get productive testing in the next round they’ll be taking to the skies, although we haven’t specified a date.”
He added that FTV2 has reached a “very advanced” state of readiness for its own first flight. Again, however, he could not offer a first-flight target, nor could he indicate what test regime the company has planned for each of the five flight-test vehicles.
Finally, on the company’s plans to gain certification within a year of first flight, which happened on September 16, Poutissou could report nothing new.
“That’s basically the plan that we’ve said all along, that it’s nominally 12 months until first flight,” he said. “But that’s also part of what we’re assessing right now.”
Meanwhile, fuselage parts for the first CS300 have recently begun arriving at the final assembly site in Mirabel, Quebec, reported Poutissou.