As Bombardier heads towards preliminary design freeze of the CSeries later this year, the company has allocated the vast majority of supplier agreements for the new twinjet. It has also indicated that wireless in-flight entertainment technology could be mature when the CSeries arrives in four years' time.
Although not all CSeries contracts have been made public, Bombardier new commercial aircraft programme director Ben Boehm reveals that a total of 96% of billable materials have been allocated. One yet-to-be announced deal is the award for the electric brakes. Bombardier tested the technology in October on a Global 5000, which was equipped entirely with an all-electric braking system supplied from Meggitt.
The remaining 4% constitutes "consumables and the flightdeck seats", under which Bombardier is considering adding a J-shaped track for "easier ingress and egress", says Boehm.
Meanwhile the airframer, which aims to reach the final design freeze late next year, thinks that there is "a good chance" that wireless IFE may be viable when the CSeries enters service in 2013.
Major suppliers for the CSeries include:-
- Shenyang Aircraft - Centre fuselage
- Alenia Aeronautica - Horizontal and vertical stabilisers
- Fokker Elmo - Design and production of the wiring and interconnection systems.
- Goodrich Actuation Systems - Design and production of the flap and slat actuation systems
- Rockwell Collins - Avionics.
Other announced suppliers include:-
- Interiors specialist C&D Zodiac
- Parker Hannifin - Design and production of the fully integrated fuel and hydraulics systems
- Liebherr-Aerospace Toulouse - Design and production of the air management system.
"As we watch technology mature and as we listen to our customers we are starting to see a trend which would indicate that by 2013 a good portion of the common IFE systems could be transmitted wirelessly," says Boehm.
"The maturity isn't quite there yet to be definitive, but there is a good chance that by 2013, you could get on-board entertainment downloads to your laptop, or as a minimum, we could only provide power to the seat back video monitors, but their content wouldn't need a second wire, it would be transmitted wirelessly instead."
Boehm says that the airframer "is not in a rush" for this technology and is waiting to see how it evolves as the service-entry date approaches. "Our customers are saying the same," he adds.
If Bombardier does go ahead with a wireless fit, it could be the pioneer. Boeing abandoned plans to use the technology in the 787 two years ago. Although one hurdle - that the 802.11n technology's specification had not yet been ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - has since been overcome, other issues persist such as concerns over the trade-off between weight saving and bandwidth.
Airbus has commissioned Bluebox Avionics to provide its wireless system for inclusion in the A380 demonstration mock-up in Hamburg. The test could assist Airbus in deciding if the technology makes sense for the A350 XWB.