Bombardier details CSeries flight test programme

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With the first flight of its CSeries CS100 pencilled in for the end of 2012, Bombardier has for the first time detailed its flight test programme that will certify and deliver the first 125-seat jet by the end of 2013.

Bombardier aims to begin the 2,400h CS100 flight test programme, which consists of five aircraft, by December, though Rob Dewar, vice president and general manager for the CSeries programme, says the aircraft will fly "when it's ready" and productive testing can be accomplished.

The first airframe to go through final assembly will be the CS100's Complete Aircraft Static (CAS) test article, followed by its five flight test vehicles (FTV) and the structural fatigue airframe.

FTV1, which is slated to fly by year-end, will open the CS100's operating envelope, undertaking aeroelastic flutter evaluations. The second test aircraft, FTV2, will focus on systems integration, including the jet's avionics and fly-by-wire flight control systems certification. Test aircraft FTV3 will establish the performance of the aircraft and its Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines, and FT4 will duplicate FTV2, splitting the systems certification workload between these two test aircraft.

Bombardier has designated FTV5 as the cabin demonstrator, and the aircraft will be used for systems functionality and reliability (F&R) and extended operations (ETOPS) testing. Bombardier aims to deliver the aircraft certified for 120min at entry into service at the end of 2013 with its undisclosed launch customer, said Dewar. A further six-month ETOPS testing trial will extend the performance to 180min.

While a majority of the flight test aircraft will eventually be delivered to customers for revenue service, FTV5 will be retained to "drive it ahead of everybody else", said Dewar, to understand the dispatch reliability of the new narrowbody.

Systems commissioning for Aircraft 0 is already underway at Bombardier's complete integrated aircraft systems test area (CIASTA) at its Mirabel, Quebec facility outside of Montreal, with its production standard pedestal, throttle quadrant and Full Digital Authority Engine Control (FADEC) software having been first activated just before 25 December 2011.

Dewar said Bombardier has not yet finalised the required ground test hours for certification as it seeks to conduct tests that would otherwise be completed by the FTVs by employing CIASTA's Aircraft 0.

A further two aircraft, FTV6 and FTV7, will be employed for the larger CS300's flight test certification due in to be completed in 2014.