Bombardier on 21 December began pressure testing its CSeries fuselage demonstrator in what the airframer is calling "a world first" for an aluminium lithium commercial aircraft fuselage barrel, ATI and Flightglobal can exclusively reveal.

"I'm happy to say that pressure testing has started," says Bombardier vice president commercial aircraft programmes Ben Boehm.

Rigorous testing on the barrel will simulate three aircraft lives. "Really, we're just taking this moment to say 'it has started' and then quite frankly these things get run by a computer programme. Our customers know they are getting a new-technology airplane with an aluminium lithium fuselage and they are getting it after Bombardier has cycled through three aircraft lives on a test rig," says Boehm.

Produced by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) in Dalian, China, the fuselage test barrel this summer was shipped to California and then trucked to Bombardier's Saint-Laurent facility outside of Montreal.

Meanwhile, at Bombardier's Mirabel-based production plant, the airframer is making headway in its construction of a new training facility that will house a virtual CSeries aircraft.

Groundbreaking on the so-called Complete Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area (CIASTA) facility began last fall and construction has continued despite harsh weather conditions.

"I look outside my window and the beauty I see right now is a fully enclosed building and we're now working to prepare the actual building inside so we're very comfortable that we are on track with that airplane [the CSeries]," says Boehm.

The timeline for co-locating all CSeries suppliers at CIASTA is "too supplier-specific to go into detail" says Boehm, noting that the next timeline that Bombardier wants to focus on is moving this spring from the 'joint definition phase' to the 'detailed design phase'. This transition will occur following a review by airlines, including 'key launch customers'.

Design freeze on the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1000G-powered aircraft is expected to occur by the end of this year or the start of 2011. Entry into service (EIS) is slated for 2013.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news