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CSeries first flight timing rests on aircraft systems maturity

First flight of the Bombardier CSeries airliner will depend upon establishing the maturity of dozens of aircraft systems close to entering the final phase of integrated testing, CSeries general manager Rob Dewar said today.

The second half of next year remains the company's official timeline for the first flight of Bombardier's 110-seat CS100 airliner, Dewar said on the sidelines of the AeroMontreal forum.

But the precise timing will be driven by when all of the various electrical and mechanical systems have completed development, he added. The company wants to avoid delays in the flight test phase caused by systems that are not mature, he said.

"We are making sure the aircraft systems are all mature before we fly," Dewar said.

The company faces a tight deadline to reach the systems maturity milestone in less than one year.

So far, the various systems, including fly-by-wire, flight controls, hydraulics and avionics, have been tested only in separate rigs.

Bombardier plans to link all of the systems together in the completed integrated aircraft system test area (CIASTA), a ground-based testing device so realistic it is also known within the programme as "Aircraft 0".

All 47 systems in the aircraft must be commissioned to begin integrated testing in the CIASTA by the second quarter of next year, he said. Of those, fifteen systems are the most critical.

There are three major systems that are "competing" within the CSeries industry team to become the first to be commissioned for testing in the CIASTA, he said. Among the three systems are one electrical, one mechanical and another that Dewar declined to describe.

In addition to the systems, the company also has to start assembling the first flight test aircraft, which includes a fuselage built by China's Shenyang and stabilisers manufactured by Alenia.

Bombardier has already completed the first phase of fatigue testing on the aluminium-lithium fuselage, which survived 180,000 cycles of simulated take-off, cruise flight and landings, Dewar said.

The CSeries team wants to conduct further fatigue tests to determine how the fuselage survives up to 240,000 cycles, he said.

"It's pretty tough to break," Dewar added. "It's lasted longer than we thought."

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