CSeries ‘Aircraft 0’ To Run This Month

 - August 13, 2012, 1:55 PM
Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin

Bombardier plans to begin full integrated testing of what it calls CSeries “Aircraft 0” at its Complete Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area (Ciasta) in Mirabel, Quebec, this month, ahead of the December target for first flight of the program’s first flying prototype. Speaking during the company’s second-quarter earnings briefing last week, Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin reported that progress toward fully integrated testing of all the CSeries systems has proceeded as expected, and that all program milestones remain intact.

Although Beaudoin acknowledged that the program’s new fly-by-wire flight control system remains on the top of the company’s list of items of interest, Bombardier has given no indication so far that it will delay first flight. “[The fly-by-wire system] is a critical system obviously on the CSeries simply for the fact that it’s the first time for Bombardier to do an aircraft that is all fly-by-wire,” said Beaudoin.

However, Beaudoin also issued a reminder that the company would consider the program “on schedule” even in the event of a three- to five-month “slippage.”

“For the past two or three years I’ve said that our target is to fly in December, but I always said that in [complex programs like this one], given the fact that I’ve done a few, three to five months within this would be considered on schedule for us.”

Answering questions about whether or not the results of Ciasta testing would help Bombardier more accurately predict the timing of first flight, Beaudoin noted that one of the challenges in such a complex program lies in what the company does not know yet. “So yes, testing exists so that we can learn,” he said. “We feel very good; we’ve done a lot of testing on individual jigs at suppliers and Bombardier. Now we’re starting integrated testing…We see a lot of components coming in. But at the same time we will learn through the testing and we’ll see…But there is no reason to speculate beyond that.”

In terms of marketing progress, Beaudoin noted that Bombardier in part controls the pace and scope of sales with pricing.

“It’s a question of achieving the right balance, so it’s also Bombardier looking to achieve some milestones so that we get beyond launch prices,” he said. “The enthusiasm for the CSeries is increasing…So right now we’re in advanced discussion with many customers and we’re trying to get the best deal for Bombardier in the long term.”