CSeries clears flight envelope extremes for speed, altitude

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The CSeries test fleet has now cleared the altitude and speed extremes of the flight envelope, Bombardier announced in a quarterly earnings statement issued on 1 May.

As the fourth test aircraft (FTV-4) prepares for first flight in the “coming weeks”, Bombardier says, the first three aircraft are cleared to operate up to 41,000ft and Mach 0.82 (871km/h).

The disclosure means that all three test aircraft in service so far are cleared to attack the full range of performance test points in the certification programme, with entry into service still schedule more than a year away in the second half of 2015.

“Getting to the full flight envelope is important because it permits us to make a lot of progress in terms of the capacity of all the flight vehicles to do all the tests on the list,” says Pierre Beaudoin, president and chief executive of Bombardier.

The company, however, offered no update on the status of testing of the fly-by-wire flight controls. The CSeries completed first flight almost eight months ago, but Bombardier has yet to announce whether the flight envelope protections enabled by the fly-by-wire system have been activated in flight.

In March, company officials said that the Block 3 software that enable the activation of “normal mode” in the fly-by-wire system were being tested in a ground-based simulation rig. Activating the flight envelope protections are also critical for the test fleet to gain certification credit during flight tests.

So far, Bombardier has completed 280h of flight testing on the CS100 aircraft.

The CSeries test fleet must complete about 2,400 hours of flight testing alone to achieve certification from Transport Canada.

Although deploying the CSeries to the Farnborough airshow in July may be a tempting marketing opportunity, Bombardier’s priority for the test fleet is the certification programme, Beaudoin says.

Bombardier has collected 203 firm orders for the CSeries from at least 13 customers, including five orders from undisclosed sources. The company’s goal is to enter service next year with a firm backlog of 300 orders.