PICTURE: Bombardier Belfast prepares to test CSeries carbonfibre wing demonstrator

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Bombardier's Belfast plant is gearing up to begin series production of the CSeries' carbonfibre wing as it prepares to begin ground-testing its recently completed demonstrator structure. The first wings will be shipped to the Montreal assembly line in 2011.

The Belfast plant, which has responsibility for the 110/130-seater's wing, currently has 400 engineers and support staff working on the programme, says the division's vice-president engineering and business development, Colin Elliott. "They are heavily engaged in pre-production testing and design," he adds.

The Belfast plant has just finished the full-scale pre-production demonstrator wing, which will be moved to the company's experimental and ground-test facility in the next few weeks, says Elliott. "It is critical we maintain the schedule on the pre-production testing, so any tweaks can be made before final design begins."

cseries wing test bombardier
 © Bombardier

The testing will fully replicate all the loading that the wing will see in service, including landing gear loads, engine and engine pylon attachment loads and aerodynamic loads, says Bombardier.

The CSeries wing incorporates extensive use of composites, with carbonfibre skins and spars. The ribs are made of advanced aluminium alloys, and titanium is employed in the areas around the pylons and the landing gear attachments. Bombardier is investing £520 million ($849 million) in Belfast to support the composite wing's development and production.

"The joint definition phase concludes early next year and then all the programme partners will return home to start production design," says Elliott.

Bombardier, which has begun constructing a new 55,750m2 (600,100ft2) factory at its Belfast plant, will begin installing autoclaves by early March to enable manufacturing of production parts to begin "towards the middle of next year", says Elliott. "We are due to deliver the first wings in the third quarter of 2011."

The first two sets - one for the ground-test airframe and one for the first flying prototype - are due to be delivered within a month of each other, he adds.

Bombardier aims to fly the first CSeries in 2012 and begin deliveries in late 2013. It is extending its Mirabel plant in Montreal to enable it to ramp up production to 20 aircraft a month by 2016. By then, the Belfast plant will be employing 800 people on the programme, says Elliott.