Bombardier aims to increase the frequency of CSeries flights to nearly one per day after completing the bulk of ground vibration trials on its FTV-1 test article.
Sebastien Mullot, CSeries programme director, speaking at the Scotiabank Transportation and Aerospace Conference 2013 on 19 November, described the ground testing as "pretty much done", although he noted that further trials could be conducted if flight-test data indicates a requirement.
Recent ground evaluations included trials of the landing gear on the CS100 test vehicle which “are behaving as anticipated", says Mullot.
Now that the vibration tests are nearly complete, Mullot says the goal is to perform CSeries test flights “ideally every day”.
Since the type's maiden sortie on 16 September test flights have been performed relatively infrequently, with the aircraft accumulating just seven flights. Partly, this is due to the schedule of the certification programme, which was designed to incorporate some of the ground vibration tests after the start of airborne evaluations, says Mullot.
“We’ve been a bit slow at the beginning that was part of the plan,” he says. “We wanted to also do some of the ground vibration testing post-first flight.”
The seventh CSeries test flight was completed last week, says Mullot, noting that poor weather conditions in Mirabel, Quebec in the following days made additional flights difficult.
Prior to this, Bombardier flew the aircraft on two consecutive days on 5 and 6 November. Before that, the aircraft flew on 30 October after a 27-days pause.
The test aircraft has logged close to 200h of ground and flight testing so far with “no major surprises,” he says.
Flight test hours will also accelerate as additional flight-test vehicles FTV-2 and FTV-3 join the programme in the coming weeks, says Mullot.
As tests ramp up, Bombardier is focused on “opening the envelope" to fly the aircraft higher, faster and in more challenging conditions, utilising teh data gleaned from the recent round of ground tests. The aircraft has reached an altitude of 25,000ft (7,630m) during tests, he says.
Test flights of the CSeries so far been performed with its fly-by-wire system set to “direct” mode instead of “normal mode,” which has added flight envelope protections. It is unclear which flight will be the first to operate the system in normal mode.
“We want to test the aircraft first to really understand its intrinsic capabilities before you inject… the software in the normal mode,” says Mullot.