Bombardier is adamant that the first CSeries100 single-aisle airliner will fly before the end of this year, despite the perception among outside observers that a lot of work remains to be done in less than six months. Here at the 2012 Farnborough International Airshow, the Canadian airframer will be hoping to boost the order backlog for the program
“The CSeries program is on track. Every day there is progress,” maintained Mike Arcamone, president of the Canadian airframer’s commercial aircraft division, during a pre-Farnborough International Airshow press briefing in June. He told reporters that first flight is just a step in the program and that the main focus was to get the CS100 entered into service by the end of 2013 and the CS300 in service by the end of 2014.
At the start of his briefing, Arcamone attempted to preempt what he considered an inevitable question by saying, “Am I happy with the CSeries sales? Yes, I am.” He said Bombardier has logged orders for 317 aircraft from 11 customers. “To get comfortable, we’d like to have 20 to 30 customers,” he added when pressed.
The CSeries is Bombardier’s entry into the 100- to 149-seat commercial aircraft market, now dominated by the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families, but also occupied by the Embraer 190/195, and with new models being offered, including the Avic ARJ-900, Comac C919 and Mitsubishi MRJ. The CS100 will seat 100 to 125 passengers, while the longer 130 will seat 120 to 145.
Customers took delivery of 5,100 aircraft in this market segment last year. According to Bombardier’s latest market forecast, published last month, the company predicts that 6,900 aircraft will be delivered in this category over the 20 years from 2012 to 2031. According to Arcamone, he believes the CSeries jets can take half of this market.
Arcamone took over as president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft division on February 1 this year. He had spent 30 years in the automobile industry, with his most recent previous post having been as CEO of General Motors in Korea.
Rob Dewar, Bombardier CSeries program manager, explained that the structures for the first flight test vehicle (FTV1) would be completed by the end of September and FTV1 itself would be assembled about a month later. Although he would not say when the airplane would be rolled out, he repeated with conviction that the major entry-in-service goals would be met.
“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 changes to the aircraft “with rigor and discipline,” to help ensure adherence to the schedule.
Arcamone attributes the company’s focus on “parallel development” and intense testing of all aircraft components and systems to his confidence in Bombardier’s ability to meet the goals of the tight schedule. Integral to this was the selection of CAE and its Augmented Engineering Environment in 2009 to support the design, integration and development of the CSeries aircraft. CAE is also developing the airplane’s first flight simulator, scheduled for delivery at entry into service. Meanwhile, more than 200 systems are being tested by other suppliers around the world.
Bob Saia, Pratt & Whitney vice president of next generation products, said the PurePower PW1000G turbofan for the CSeries has completed 2,800 hours of testing, with several critical tests due to be completed over the next few months. He said the engines are on schedule for certification in the fourth quarter and delivery before the end of the year, in time for first flight.