Bombardier to flight-test avionics options and interior and test completion cycle

Bombardier has modified the Challenger 300 programme, delaying certification and slowing initial production in an effort to avoid the entry-into-service problems that afflicted the Global Express business jet, as well as the CRJ700 and Dash 8 Q400 regional aircraft. The delay will allow design changes resulting from tests to be incorporated before first customer deliveries.

Originally expected this month, certification of the former Continental super mid-size business jet is now scheduled for the first quarter of next year. First deliveries of completed aircraft are still planned for mid-2003.

The delay will give the Canadian manufacturer time to flight-test the avionics options and interior, and test the completion cycle, "so that we have a mature product", says Challenger 300 programme director Tom Hilpert. "We want to certificate the configuration that we want to enter service."

Four aircraft, one with a prototype interior, have accumulated 1,100h of flight testing. A fifth aircraft, serial number 20005, is essentially complete, but is being held on the ground in "update mode" while systems designs are finalised and redesigned parts installed. It is expected to fly in November in a production-representative configuration. This aircraft will be used for function and reliability (F&R) testing leading to certification.

"We have frozen the aerodynamics, and all primary and secondary structure, and are progressively freezing the systems," says Hilpert. "We will keep the aircraft on the ground until the last moment and freeze as many systems as possible before we launch F&R." After certification, 20005 will be used by Bombardier's Flexjet fractional-ownership programme for "operational F&R" tests ahead of first deliveries.

Confident that the configuration of aircraft 20001 meets aerodynamic and performance targets, Hilpert says testing has begun in Roswell, New Mexico, to gather performance data for the flight manual and flight management system. Installing a prototype interior in aircraft 20004 has allowed Bombardier's Tucson, Arizona, completion centre to measure the outfitting cycle.

The five test aircraft will be followed by a low-rate initial production batch of six Challenger 300s, to be used to validate the production line flow.

The first two of these, 20006 and 20007, have been slowed to allow late design changes to be incorporated during production. But the last two, 20010 and 20011, will be built at the peak rate of 60 aircraft a year, Hilpert says.

US approval is expected 30 days after Transport Canada certification, and European recommendation is due 30 days after that.

Source: Flight International