Bombardier's Faith in C Series Unshaken by Tight Schedules

 - June 25, 2012, 1:25 PM
Bombardier Commercial Airplanes president Mike Arcamone insists the C Series will fly by year-end. (Photo: Bombardier)

The first Bombardier C Series CS100 will fly before the end of this year, asserted Mike Arcamone, president of the Montreal-based airframer’s commercial aircraft division, at a briefing last week at the company’s headquarters ahead of next month’s Farnborough International Airshow.

“The C Series program is on track,” Arcamone insisted amid skepticism over the relatively short time left to achieve the goal. “Every day there is progress.” Schedules call for certification of the CS100 by the end of next year and the CS300 by the end of 2014.

As if to preempt another inevitable question, Arcamone expressed satisfaction with the program’s commercial progress as well. “Am I happy with the C Series sales?” he asked rhetorically. “Yes, I am.” Adding that Bombardier has logged orders for 317 aircraft from 11 customers, Arcamone also expressed a desire to broaden the client base, however. “To get comfortable, we’d like to have 20 to 30 customers,” he conceded.

Arcamone took over as president of the commercial aircraft division on February 1, after spending 30 years in the automobile industry, most recently serving as CEO of General Motors in Korea. “It’s been an exciting four months for me,” he said, deferring to more seasoned Bombardier executives to answer more specific questions about the C Series.

Rob Dewar, C Series program manager, explained that Bombardier will finish building the structures for the first flight-test vehicle (FTV1) by the end of September and FTV1 itself will take shape about a month later. Although he would not say when the airplane will roll out of the factory, he repeated his assurance that the company will meet the major entry-into-service goals.

“We have 18 months to get ready for first delivery,” Dewar said. “We’re working 24 hours a day and are on track to meet our milestones.” A Bombardier “change board” meets daily to consider proposed revisions to the aircraft “with rigor and discipline,” to help ensure adherence to the schedule.

Arcamone attributes his confidence in Bombardier’s ability to meet the goals of the tight schedule to the company’s focus on “parallel development” and testing of all aircraft components and systems. The selection of CAE and its Augmented Engineering Environment in 2009 to support the design, integration and development of the C Series proved integral to that effort, he added. CAE is also developing the flight simulator for the aircraft, scheduled for delivery at entry into service. Meanwhile, other suppliers around the world continue testing more than 200 systems.

Bob Saia, Pratt & Whitney vice president of next generation products, said the PurePower PW1000G turbofan for the C Series has completed 2,800 hours of testing, while schedules call for completion of several critical tests over the next few months, certification in the fourth quarter and delivery before the end of the year.