Countdown to first flights for A350, CSeries

35 Comments on “Countdown to first flights for A350, CSeries

  1. One of the articles shows the crew escape door for use in emergency. I think if I had to jump, I’d prefer to be aft of the engine intakes!

  2. Recent news about the CSeries have hinted that the aircraft has been handed over to the flight crew a week ago. In the past few weeks we have received a lot of contradictory information in regards to the whereabouts of the aircraft. Most of them referring to the time ground testing was actually completed. But when it comes to ground testing it is very easy to mix things up because there are several phases that are involved in this process.

    Phase 1:

    This early phase is associated with Aircraft 0, which used to be called the Iron Bird. It is a structurally different, but dimensionally identical, aircraft to the flight test vehicle. That is where all the systems are tested on a 24/7 basis. It has been running for over a year now. It is constantly upgraded with the latest software versions. This installation, called ISTCR, is tied to an engineering simulator. These, along with other test rigs, are housed in a facility called CIASTA. The first flight test aircraft cannot be released until all the flight parameters have been validated and all the systems have been certified here.

    Phase 2:

    This is the phase where the structural integrity of the aircraft is verified. The wings are bent to simulate the flight loads the aircraft will be subjected to, and the fuselage is pressurized to make sure it can withstand the inflight pressure differential. The tests are carried out on an identical aircraft to the one that will fly. Except that it is not fitted with the various aircraft systems. Which makes it the exact opposite of Aircraft 0, where all the systems are operated but without the basic aircraft structure. The facility where this takes place is called CAST. Again the flight test aircraft cannot be released until the structural integrity of the aircraft has been certified.

    Phase 3:

    When the assembly of the first flight test aircraft, called FTV1, has been completed it is handed over to the flight test department. This is the aircraft that will make the first flight. But before the pilots can take it to the air it must first be tested by the pre-flight technicians. That is when the aircraft will be checked for weight and balance. After that it will be fuelled and checked for leaks. The engines will then be run on the ground for the first time. All the systems will be checked on a completely autonomous and live aircraft. Once more the flight test aircraft cannot be released until it has been certified by the ground crew as airworthy.

    Phase 4:

    The final phase of ground testing begins when the aircraft is finally handed over to the flight crew. The test pilots have to taxi the aircraft to the runway and simulate the various phases of a take off run. In the process they have to check the brakes, the aircraft handling, the engine response and the instruments, among other things. When they are satisfied that all is well they send another aircraft, called the chase plane, to check the environmental and meteorological conditions. It is then up to the flight crew to decide if and when they will proceed with the first take off.

    In regards to the CSeries we are in the middle of phase four right now. But apparently the A350 entered phase four before the smaller aircraft. We are almost certain the A350 will make its first flight before the Paris Air Show. For the CSeries we are almost certain it will make its first flight before the end of the month.

    • At the beginning of phase four they would do a vibration test. My understanding is that this can be a lengthy procedure.

  3. I heard ftv1 had been fuelled but you would think they would have announced if the engines have been powered up.

    • With Bombardier there seems to be a delay between what we hear and what we actually see.

  4. If the aircraft has been handed to the flight crew it means the engines have already been powered up by the ground crew. For the ground crew cannot certify the aircraft without running the engines.

    In the Toronto Star article above the following is reported:

    – “The planes are built. The instrumentation is on. It’s fuelled,” said Arcamone in an interview in Toronto. But he insisted the first flight will not coincide with Paris. “Pilots are doing vibration tests, low taxiing, high taxiing to see how the plane behaves.”

    – When they’re ready, they send out what’s known as “a chaser plane,” to check weather conditions at 30,000 feet and make sure they’re ideal, he said.

    – “They can decide, ‘Today’s the day, we’ll fly,’ ” Arcamone said. “I don’t have any control.”

    And the above Bloomberg article also reports the following:

    – Bombardier’s flight-test group took control of the plane earlier this week, and ground vibration tests will now be carried out before low-speed taxiing begins, Dewar said.

  5. In the above Wall Street Journal article problems with suppliers are reported. Here are a few excerpts:

    – Airbus is ramping up A350 production as a boom in demand for smaller passenger jets is stretching the capacity of aircraft-industry suppliers to meet increasing demands from Airbus and Boeing.

    – “Suppliers are dealing with a double squeeze from the ramp-up in production at Airbus and Boeing as well as the need to gear up for their new programs,” said Christophe Menard, an aviation-sector analyst at Paris brokerage house Kepler Cheuvreux.

    – Supply-chain disruptions are “a real risk” for Airbus on the A350, Mr. Menard said.

    – Tom Williams, who oversees all Airbus programs, said the company experienced supply-chain problems last year as it increased production of its A320 single-aisle jet.

    – “We’ve had to inject a lot of additional resources into the supply chain and in some cases we’ve had to intervene directly in the supply chain, either actually taking a management ownership in some of suppliers, injecting money, [or] injecting our managers and talent in order to help manage the problems and keep the suppliers afloat so that we could keep feeding our production lines,” Mr. Williams said.

    Nowadays an increasingly larger portion of aircraft manufacturing is outsourced. But there are hidden costs associated with this business model. One of the biggest toll resulting from this industry practice is a lost of internal expertise. When pushed too far it produces empty shells filled with MBAs who are trying to manage themselves the contracts they had outsourced in the first place.

    Even governments have fallen victim of this trend. And when something goes wrong, as it invariably does on large contracts, the government is stuck, unable to control the projects for which it has given away the management and the experience that comes with it. The business schools around the world will have to revise what they are going to teach to the next generation of CEOs.

  6. There is a live interview on BNN of Michele Arcamone, President of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. It is the original interview from where some of the information in the articles mentioned above come from.

    Arcamone has been in this position for approximately one and a half year. Prior to his appointment with Bombardier he was in the automotive industry. He knew little about aviation when he came in and has obviously made considerable progress since. But you will notice in the interview that he is still not comfortable with the technical issues. His boss, Guy Hachey, the president of Bombardier Aerospace, also came from the automotive industry. Like Arcamone Hachey knew little about aviation when he was hired, but today he talks like an expert. Louis Chênevert, the CEO of United Technology, actually worked with these two gentlemen when he himself was in the automotive industry. All three worked for General Motors.

    The automobile sector seems like a good place to start a career in aviation. But the opposite is also true. Take Alan Mulally for example. He was President of Boeing Commercial Airplane before he became CEO of Ford. Sometime after he started in his new job he was scheduled to attend the Paris Motor Show. But he kept telling people he was going to the Paris Air Show! 😉

    http://watch.bnn.ca/#clip942627

  7. At Air Insight there is a pile of videos on last week Airbus Innovation days.

    Airbus says 8 out of the biggest 10 777 operators switched to the XWB.

    I had a look into that last statement. 777 operators:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Boeing_777_operators

    Biggest operators:
    1. EK (110 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    2. UA (74 x777s) -> XWB
    3. SQ (64 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    4. AA (52 x777s) -> XWBs US Airways
    5. BA (52 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    6. ANA (51 x777s) -> Undecided
    7. JAL (46 x777s) -> Undecided
    8. CX (45 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)
    9. Korean (34 x777s) -> Undecided
    10. Qatar (31 x777s) -> XWB (incl -1000)

    Recalling what ANA and JAL recently stated, this is a shocker to me.

    • That may explain why McNerney was so aggressive recently. This situation should send a message to the Board and make them move their bottom.

    • @keesje:

      Your definition of “switch” seems false. A “switch” would be if carriers went exclusively from the B777 to the XWB exclusively. Besides CX (and maybe SQ), we haven’t seen any of the other carriers move “exclusively” to the XWB . A number of these carriers have said they want the B77X as well (maybe CX will order it too). A number of B77E’s are being replaced by the B789 as well.

      “Augment”, “complement” might be a more aft comment.

      AA wasn’t a “switch”-thats simple disinformation on your part. AA as a running company has never ordered the XWB. What they get in the merger is completely a different situation.

      You use to post the same type of disinformative comments on A.net and were taken to “school” a number of times by members such as Stitch, me, etc.

      • Under your definition nobdy will ever “switch” without a one for one swap at a distinct moment in time like forex swapping your Porsche for a GMC truck at a dealership 😉

        But that is not how the aircraft market works. ( And would you go for the same
        definition if the “nonswitch” happened the other way round? )

        I’d see changing a supplier as a swap in at least procurement.

        In view of strong agenda driven moderation at A.net that “school” you boast to have taken Keesje to is more like a Madrassa, a religious school teaching conformance to the dominant belief 😉

    • We can discuss details (e.g. SQ didn’t order -1000s), AA neither but gets them etc etc. Both A350-1000 and 777X are years away, things will change.

      But that is not the point. The point IMO is that the writing on 777 replacements is on the wall for now.

      Boeing and many other are boasting market dominance in bigger twins, but with the unlaunched 777X to hopefully enter service around 2020, it becomes clear Boeing is fighting an uphill battle here. The A350 now is 6 years ahead. That is long/ many aircraft.

      McNerney recents comments have to be looked at in that context.

      • Airbus was years behind as well with multiple iterations of the A350-certainly didn’t stop them from gaining sales. Whether the B77X will sell as well as the -1000XWB, that’s to be seen.

        Judging from your comments is just the XWB which has been replacing the B777 market. I believe its both the B787 and XWB. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, even former UA Chair Tilton stated the B789 will be replacing their B77E’s while the A359XWB will be replacing their B744’s.

        Personally, I’ve never stated anywhere about “Boeing boasting”. In fact, I’ve been highly critical of Boeing management as well as highly praising the move to the XWB and especially the A359XWB which has been “cleaning up”. These comments of mine can be found on A.net 5-6 years ago.

        I see the B77E market being replaced by the A333 for shorter missions (such as SQ) and by the A359XWB and B789 for longer missions. Down the road, I expect the A333 market and shorter B77E markets being replaced by the B787-10X and the longer B77E missions/market being replaced by the A359XWB and B789.

        The B77W market will be replaced by the A350XWB and B77X.

        For now, I shall stand pat on these points.

    • Xcuse I had a typo in the list, missed AF.

      3rd largest 777 operator is AF, with 64 aircraft -> XWB (no -1000 commitments AFAIN)

  8. jacobin777 :
    @keesje:
    Your definition of “switch” seems false. A “switch” would be if carriers went exclusively from the B777 to the XWB exclusively. Besides CX (and maybe SQ), we haven’t seen any of the other carriers move “exclusively” to the XWB . A number of these carriers have said they want the B77X as well (maybe CX will order it too). A number of B77E’s are being replaced by the B789 as well.
    “Augment”, “complement” might be a more aft comment.

    Not sure about that. At present it looks as if many of these carriers may end up with 787s and A350s, and no 777. Certainly if Boeing didn’t offer them the 777x, this would be the case. So I would look at it as a challenge to Boeing to sell 777x to these carriers to ensure that they remain customers for Boeing in that market segment.

    A blanket analysis won’t help though and the information provided overstates the case, in my view. EK and QR will almost certainly order the 777x. But for example BA and UA are a different kettle of fish though, since they hardly operate any 773 (UA operates none, I believe, and BA single-digit number of frames). Why would they get themselves a 777x, either -8 or -9? BA maybe to replace the few 773 they run now and the 747s. But I wouldn’t bet on it. They may well end up with a 3-type long-haul fleet of 788, A359/10, A380.

    I don’t think the personal attacks are conducive to the argument.

    • Point is Boeing is offering them the B77X. You do seem to agree that carriers are taking both the XWB and the B787. Not just XWB. This is where I fail to see the “switch”.

      I also have never stated every carrier is taking the particular route of having the XWB, 787 and B77X.

      Regarding your comment of “personal attacks”-point taken!

      • Absolutely regarding what is replacing what. I think that’s what’s so clever about how the companies divide the market between them.

    • “They may well end up with a 3-type long-haul fleet of 788, A359/10, A380”

      Very unlikely! BA’s original 787 order was for 24 firm and 18 options. The 24 firm were split as 8 788’s and 16 789’s. The 18 Options were recently exercised (rumored to be 781’s and will likely be announced at PAS).

      So we already have the 787-8/9/10 (PAS?) in their Likely Fleet.

      BA currently operate approx. 55 744’s & 46 772’s with 6 firm and 4 options for the 773ER. That is potentially 111 aircraft.

      They have 12 firm and 7 options on the A380. Their recent A350 order was for 18 A351’s plus 18 options. That is potentially 55 aircraft. Clearly not enough to replace 111 777/747 sized A/C. Even if you include the 787-10’s (+18 A/C), That would = 73 A/C.

      That leaves 38 A/C to be replaced on a one for one basis, without accounting for much growth. The 777X seems ideally suited to fulfill this role.

      • Thanks for the correction on the 787.

        As for the 777x. I don’t see it. The 778x is the same size as the A351, if not smaller (if you make identical assumptions on seat density, rather than using Boeing for the 777, and Airbus for the A351). The seat differential between the 779 and the A351 may well end up not being meaningful in the premium-heavy configuration of BA, if you use the same assumptions for seat density.

        So I’ll stick to my prediction for the time being. Three families for long-haul, just as now (767, 777, 747), to become 787, A350, A380. Let’s see who is right. 🙂

  9. Uwe :
    Under your definition nobdy will ever “switch” without a one for one swap at a distinct moment in time like forex swapping your Porsche for a GMC truck at a dealership
    But that is not how the aircraft market works. ( And would you go for the same
    definition if the “nonswitch” happened the other way round? )
    I’d see changing a supplier as a swap in at least procurement.
    In view of strong agenda driven moderation at A.net that “school” you boast to have taken Keesje to is more like a Madrassa, a religious school teaching conformance to the dominant belief

    Carriers certaily do completely “switch”. Easyjet switched from an all-Boeing fleet to an all-Airbus fleet. That is called a switch. As I mentioned previously, sans CX (and possibly SQ),these carriers are either augmenting/complementing their B777 fleets or replacing them with both the B787 and A350.

    If we are going for semantics, I guess I can agree to a “partial switch”..;-)

    Regarding A.net, I don’t post there either but I do not belive there are any particular “dominant beliefs” there. There are supporters of both sides.

    • Just wondering and not being pedantic, but would it be a switch for example if EK ordered the A350 to replace their 777-200s and 300s and maybe the -300ER on some routes but still ordered the 777X. In this case, you could say they “switched” to the A350 from some models of the 777-200. This is not meant to be fully taken seriously btw 😉

  10. jacobin777 :

    In fact, if I’m not mistaken, even former UA Chair Tilton stated the B789 will be replacing their B77E’s while the A359XWB will be replacing their B744′s.

    Personally, I’ve never stated anywhere about “Boeing boasting”. In fact..

    For now, I shall stand pat on these points.

    About Tilton, yes he said so. Looking at the 744 position; daily, full, heavy cargo flight to Asia, that should ring a bell. The A359 would cause immediate, sharp fall in market share in booming Asia markets. Doubt that is UA’s strategy. They dsimissed the A380 then showed interest, then they said no. BA also said no, until they ordered it. It a multi billion game. Wonder what UA says this year. They seem to go for -1000s anyway after the Co merger.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/01/us-airbus-united-idUSBRE8A01BV20121101

    I think nobody said / suggested you are “Boeing boasting”. I think you make some valid points.

    • No version of either the A350 or 777 could adequately replace the 744 on trans Pacific for United or Delta, they have remarkable load factors, particularly Delta into Manila.
      Not sure about United, but with the Delta penchant for good used aircraft, would not be surprised to see them taking used A380’s from SIA or EK who will be looking to offload their early frames in the next four years.

  11. mhalblaub :How far away is an A400M with just 2 engines from your turboliner? Smaller wing, a new tail would be nice but why invent an new fuselage? Why not 10 abreast and LD3 in the cargo bay?

    Apart from powerpoint I use Irfanview to and some time ago..
    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/A200MA400MTP400Airbus.jpg

    The aircraft has little space below the floor and no doubt heavy to handle soft airstrips.

    GE is developping a more suitable ~8000 shp engine.

    • A200M:
      that would be an overmuscled C160 😉
      Though when looking at payload utilisation ( ref: Javiers Blog ) a twin engine 17++t lifter with hold dimensions slightly smaller than the A400M could be a good idea.

    • How much weight could be saved to operate an A200 from normal runways?
      Just one pair of wheels on main landing gear?
      The beavertail also is quite heavy compared to a normal tail.

      MTOW for CS300 is 60 t and OEW is 35 t.
      A321 MTOW is 94 t and OEW is 49 t.
      OEW A400M: 80 t

      Dry weight of one TP400 is nearly 2 t but still looks like a hard diet.

      How big is the difference in fuel burn for a frontal surface twice as big as a CS100? Aircraft might be shorter. Fuselage surface per pax is nearly the same.

      Gain would be faster boarding and full height LD3.

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