Bombardier plans to issue an update on the flight-test schedule of its new CSeries jet “in a few weeks” as program managers assess whether to maintain the company’s admittedly ambitious entry-into-service target date of one year after first flight, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft marketing vice president Philippe Poutissou told AIN last week during a briefing at the Dubai Airshow. Meanwhile, the company will now quote only total flight and ground test hours rather than specify an exact figure for time in the air.
So far, the first flight-test vehicle (FTV1) has completed 190 total hours of testing. It has flown as high as 25,000 feet and as fast as 340 knots (Mach 0.6). Speaking with AIN about a month before the airshow began, Poutissou reported that FTV1 had flown a total of eight hours over the course of three flights. In Dubai, he told AIN that the airplane now flies “fairly regularly.”
“We haven’t provided a breakdown [of flight- and ground-test hours] and part of the reason is we see that all that testing is value added,” Poutissou said. “We’re not surprised by anything the aircraft does relative to the simulators and the simulation, which is always great because it means that the investment we’ve made in our Ciasta [Complete Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area], the engineering simulator and all the tools that we use to do a lot of the development testing on the ground allows us to gain confidence with those tools and then minimize the amount of real testing we need to do in the air.”
Still, the airplane flies in so-called direct mode, or without the full aid of its fly-by-wire system. In October, Poutissou told AIN that Bombardier would wait to finish a software upgrade to its Parker Aerospace fly-by-wire system before it flew the airplane in “normal” mode. Last week, he could offer no new details related to the status of the work on the system.
The certification program calls for 2,400 hours of flight-testing with five aircraft, all of which are in varying stages of completion. FTV2 has reached a “very advanced” state of readiness for its own first flight. However, Poutissou couldn’t offer a first-flight target date, nor could he indicate what test regime the company has planned for each of the five flight-test vehicles.