Paris Air Show

C Series supply chain locked; focus turns to production prep

 - June 17, 2009, 9:51 AM

Bombardier has moved into the next stage in the development of its new C Series aircraft, having secured the supply chain and completed the selection of all major suppliers. It is also preparing to break ground on the final assembly plant at Mirabel and is well ahead in planning its other facilities in Canada, Northern Ireland and China.

Ben Boehm, Bombardier Commercial Airplanes vice president for programs, confirmed that the selection of all major suppliers has now been completed and that the program has moved on to the Joint Definition Phase (JDP). In the now completed Joint Conception Definition Phase, it built an advanced fuselage barrel rig and CFRP wing demonstrator rig, and completed high-lift wind-tunnel tests.

“We are in the demonstration phase with the composite aft fuselage barrel, and the advanced aluminum fuselage barrel will ship to Montreal in August for testing. The composite wing design is making great progress in Belfast,” Boehm explained.

Colin Elliott, v-p of engineering, said that the company’s Belfast facility is “busy testing thousands of articles to understand the materials” used in the aircraft design.
With program launch only a year ago and a CATIA model developed some nine months ago, it has already build an inner wing structure “fully representative of the production aircraft.

“We have completed a complete upper wing panel test article using RTI [resin transfer injection] two weeks ago and we will complete the lower wing panel in the next couple of weeks,” explained Elliott. He added, “The upper wing panel is the largest RTI single piece ever created in aerospace.”

Bombardier is being very careful to ensure that each supplier is fully prepared for its production commitments. “We will have three iterations in our [full rig] testing and will have 2,000 [virtual] flights with it before the aircraft flies.” It is also being cautious about committing to a first flight date: “First flight will be in 2012 but we won’t be more specific,” said commercial airplanes president and CEO Gary Scott.