Manufacturer yet to determine if water ingestion test incident will hit tight development and certification schedule

The Embraer 170 flight test programme has had a setback following an incident during water ingestion testing which resulted in one of the test aircraft skidding off the runway and suffering landing gear and nacelle damage.

The company expects to know this week what impact, if any, this will have on the 170's tight development and certification schedule.

The mishap occurred on 22 August while the aircraft was performing scheduled water ingestion testing on a flooded portion of the 5,000m (16,400ft) long runway at the new Gaviao Peixoto facility in Brazil. The incident, involving the third 170 prototype, is still under investigation and a report was due to be made to the Embraer board of directors on 13 September.

It is understood that after completing several ingestion trials, the aircraft (PP-XJY) left the runway, causing the main landing gear to collapse. The investigation is believed to be focusing on human rather mechanical factors. "The conclusions from the investigation have not yet been finalised," says Embraer.

The company hopes to complete repairs to the prototype soon and return it to the flight test programme. The main landing gear has been replaced, and repairs to the General Electric CF34-8E engine nacelle are in progress.

Embraer's third prototype flew for the first time in late May and, together with the fourth prototype, is being used mainly for avionics and systems testing. It was the first of six planned 170 flight test aircraft to be equipped with a full Honeywell Epic avionics suite.

Having suffered a two-month delay to the start of flight testing, Embraer hopes to complete development flying and airworthiness certification by the end of next March, clearing the way for delivery of the first 70-seater to Swiss International Air Lines shortly afterwards.

"We are assessing the impact this event will have on the programme and hope to issue a position on this shortly," says the company.

Source: Flight International