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Rolling together?

The roll-out of the Bombardier Global Express on 26 August marked a significant waypoint in an unusually international programme.

Graham Warwick/TORONTO

ANY SIMILARITY between the Bombardier Global Express and its Canadair Challenger stablemate, fades as the aircraft's size, becomes apparent on entering the final-assembly building at de Havilland in Toronto. The impressive wing, key to the business jet's long range and high speed, is a sure sign that this is no warmed-over Challenger, despite the fuselage's familiar features.

The many accents heard while walking round the first Global Express, is another clue that this programme is different. Bombardier entered the aerospace industry when it acquired Canadair in 1986. Then, its only product was the Challenger business jet, designed and built in Montreal. Ten years later, the Global Express is the first aircraft to bear the Bombardier name. It is being assembled in Toronto from airframe sections manufactured in Canada, Japan and Northern Ireland, and systems from France, Germany, the UK and the USA, and will be flight-tested in the USA.

In part, the diversity of accents is a result of Bombardier's growth, and its acquisition of Short Brothers in Belfast, Learjet in Wichita and de Havilland Canada in Toronto. It is also a result of Bombardier's decision, to spread the C$1 billion ($725 million) cost of developing the Global Express, not only across its own companies but among risk-sharing partners. These include Mitsubishi, AlliedSignal, E-Systems, Hella, Honeywell, Liebherr, Lucas, Messier-Dowty, Parker Bertea and Sextant.

SUCCESSFUL INTEGRATION

The massive integration task, which this division of responsibility entails, appears to have been accomplished successfully, judging by the speed with which the first Global Express came together for its 26 August roll out and scheduled September first flight. "No issues to date are giving major concern about meeting the first-flight date," the company says.

"The aircraft has gone together very well," says John Holding, executive vice-president, engineering, He attributes this to the joint-definition phase in 1994, when more than 500 engineers from Bombardier and its partners worked together in Montreal to define the interfaces between the work packages. Fewer than 200 of the engineers were from Bombardier; the rest came from 30 partners and suppliers involved in the programme. Partners could not leave the joint-definition phase until the interfaces with their own work packages were fully defined, Holding says.

The Global Express is the first Bombardier programme to have a joint-definition phase. "All future programmes will have one," Holding says, admitting that integration is "much better" than on the Learjet 45 business-jet programme, which did not go through joint definition. The de Havilland Dash 8-400 regional turboprop is now in joint definition, and the CRJ-X stretched Canadair Regional Jet, if launched, will have a six-month joint-definition phase, he says. Joint definition was essential on the Global Express because Bombardier is contributing only half the total development effort. Canadair has overall design authority, but partners are responsible for the design, manufacture, installation and performance of their work packages, absorbing their development expenses through to certification in return for fixed-price production contracts. "Canadair, is the aerodynamic-configuration designer, but Mitsubishi did the detailed design of the wing", Holding explains.

Suppliers like the arrangement, he says, acknowledging that it is a "culture change" for Canadair. "Our own engineers have to pull back, become more integrators [than designers]. Suppliers have to accept additional responsibility, and develop integration capabilities," Holding says, adding: "We buy systems, not components." Bombardier has had to help some partners with their integration task, notably Lucas on the electrical system.

Joint definition required substantial investment by Bombardier in the Dassault CATIA computer-aided-design (CAD) system. Partners could use their own CAD systems for detail design, but only CATIA three-dimensional solid models were used to define the interfaces between work packages. "We dictated the interface, not the system used by the supplier," says Keith Rhodes, director of methods and systems.

Bombardier was the first aerospace company to implement the CATIA system on fully distributed UNIX workstations (Boeing ran it on mainframe computers when it designed its 777). Some 300 CATIA workstations were in operation by the end of the joint-definition phase, rising to around 650 by mid-1996 - representing an investment of almost C$30 million to date, says Rhodes. "CATIA is just a tool," he cautions. "You have to invest in the methodologies to use it-the Global Express was a challenge - developing a new product and a new [design] process at the same time."

JOINT ASSEMBLY

With the end of joint definition, an integration team of some 150 Bombardier engineers, plus 50-70 partner representatives remained in Montreal to continue development and maintain configuration-control. When major parts of the first Global Express began to arrive early in 1996, the team relocated to Toronto to support final assembly. Manufacturing staff from Canadair, de Havilland, Mitsubishi and Shorts were brought on site, to finalise installation work.

Bombardier's original plan called for airframe sections to arrive in Toronto "fully stuffed". This was amended to speed up assembly of the first aircraft. The wing and centre-fuselage sections were flown in aboard an Antonov An-124 from Nagoya, Japan, and Mitsubishi personnel installed and rigged the flaps, slats and flight controls in Toronto. "By aircraft three, and definitely by four, we want to get parts fully stuffed," says Brian Adams, director, Global Express programme management, and leader of the team building the first aircraft. The wing and centre-fuselage sections of the first aircraft, 9001, arrived at de Havilland in January. Subassemblies for the second aircraft, 9002, arrived by air from Mitsubishi in May and major assembly of this aircraft is complete. Components for aircraft 9003 arrived in July. From the fourth aircraft onwards, Adams says, wing and centre-fuselage sections will arrive by sea. The cockpit and forward-fuselage sections of the first aircraft were joined at Canadair before delivery to Toronto, but those of the second aircraft were joined at de Havilland, as originally planned, he says.

Power-on testing on the first aircraft began on time in April and the BMW Rolls-Royce BR710-48s were installed in June. Ground-vibration testing began in early August, again to schedule, but engine runs were not expected to begin until after roll out - more than a month behind Bombardier's original plan.

Initial certification of the BR710 was achieved on schedule in mid-August, with certification of the version powering the Global Express, expected in February 1997. Engine changes for the Global Express, include different thrust ratings, bleed schedules, accessory drives, and deletion of a mechanical-over-speed system to save weight.

Considerable ground testing will be accomplished before the first flight in September, at Bombardier and its partners. An integrated systems test-rig (ISTR) is already operational in Toronto and is being used to test the primary and secondary flight-controls, including the associated hydraulic and electrical systems. The ISTR is linked to an avionics system-integration test-bench (SITS), which includes a representation of the Global Express cockpit. The Honeywell-built SITS is a duplicate of test-rig being used for avionics development, and allows the ISTR to be "flown".

Static testing of a complete airframe began in Montreal in early August, with four limit-load cases to be accomplished by first flight. Airframe sections for the static-test article were delivered by the partners with strain gauges already attached, says manager, experimental, Robert Walker. Pre-flight limit-load testing is also being conducted at Shorts, on horizontal and vertical stabilisers, rudder, elevators and nacelle; at Mitsubishi, on flaps, slats, ailerons, spoilers and winglets; and at BMW R-R on engine mounts and thrust reverser.

FLIGHT PLANS

Bombardier is aiming for a first flight in September. The aircraft will be flown for about 25h before being relocated in October to Bombardier's flight-test centre at Learjet in Wichita, Kansas. All four flight-test aircraft will have been flown by early 1997, says Holding. A 2,000h flight-test programme is planned, leading to simultaneous Canadian, European and US certification in May 1998. The core certification group at Wichita has already certificated the Learjet 60, Regional Jet, Canadair CL-415 and Challenger 604, Bombardier notes.

Aircraft 9001 will be assigned to performance testing. It will be fully instrumented, and equipped with flutter-test vanes, stall-recovery parachute, emergency-egress system, and flight-test air-data and water-ballast systems. Aircraft 9002 will be similarly equipped, lacking only the flutter-test system, but carrying icing instrumentation, and will be assigned to systems testing. Aircraft 9003 will lack the stall-recovery and emergency-egress systems, but will be fully instrumented and assigned to avionics testing.

Aircraft 9004 will be a standard production Global Express, and the first to be outfitted with a cabin interior. The aircraft will be used for function and reliability testing, crew-workload and noise evaluation, and cruise-performance measurement - as it will be the first Global Express without any flight-test excrescences, although Holding says that aircraft 9003 will be used to check whether the predicted 12,000km (6,500nm) range will be achieved.

Dedicated pilots have already been assigned to each test aircraft, under chief pilot Pete Reynolds, and partners have defined the test requirements for their systems. The avionics SITS now in Toronto will be moved to Wichita to support the flight test programme. Holding says that the rig will be used during flight testing to explore solutions to any problems encountered. A similar avionics test-rig was used during flight testing of the Regional Jet at Wichita.

Installation of a complete-aircraft durability and damage-tolerance test-rig in Montreal is scheduled to be completed in December allowing testing to begin in January 1997. Canadair will complete two lifetimes of testing - the second lifetime after airframe damage has been deliberately introduced. The Global Express' 15,000-cycle design service-life - half that of the Challenger - equates to 56,000h of flying because of the aircraft's long-range mission. A 12,000km flight will take around 14h.

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