Bombardier has announced a slight new delay for the CSeries first flight, moving the goal posts now for the third time from end of July to the "coming weeks".
"While the process has taken more time than we had expected, we are pleased with the results and are very comfortable taking more time to ensure the required integration is finalised and the CSeries aircraft is cleared for its first flight," says Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone.
The latest delay has occurred as Bombardier has started the gauntlet series of systems testing, which the Canadian manufacturer calls aircraft in the loop (ACIL) tests.
The testing simulates a full take-off, cruise and landing cycle of all the aircraft systems on the ground. Completing the ACIL battery of tests is necessary for Bombardier to begin a series of slow- and high-speed taxi tests at the company's final assembly plant in Mirabel, Canada.
The first flight test vehicle (FTV-1) was unveiled in partially complete form to the public on 7 March. The aircraft rolled out of the factory and onto the tarmac at the Mirabel airport in early June. Last week, Bombardier brought out FTV-1 again and ran a series of tests on the Honeywell 131-9 auxiliary power unit an the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G geared turbofan engine.
Those tests usually open a two-week window to reaching first flight. The Airbus A350-900 achieved first flight 15 days after a similar engine test, and the Boeing 787-8 flew 13 days after the same test.
Bombardier says that the engine APU tests are "running smoothly", and that integration work overall is "progressing well".
In late June, Bombardier announced that it had completed a series of last-minute software upgrades, but the latest release indicates that validation work of those changes is still ongoing.
"The highly technical last steps are taking more time than initially anticipated to validate the overall systems and ongoing software integration," Bombardier says.
The CSeries was originally scheduled to complete the first flight milestone in December 2012, followed by entry into service a year later. Last November, Bombardier delayed the first flight date by six months. Despite calling the CSeries first flight imminent at the Paris air show in mid-June, Bombardier executives announced a second delay a week later to the end of July.
Bombardier is now keeping the timing of the first flight schedule open. Rather than saying the event will occur by the end of August, the company only says it will happen in the "coming weeks".
Entry-into-service with launch customer Malmo Aviation remains roughly 12 months after the first flight date.
(All photos courtesy of Bombardier.)