CSeries first flight: late August or September (analysis)

We believe the first flight of the Bombardier CSeries is planned for late August or early September, based on the coming flight “in weeks” statements from BBD. We note this is “weeks” rather than “days,” and it is not as ambiguous as “the third [or fourth] quarter.”

BBD said it can’t “pinpoint” a date for first flight, in response to a reporter’s question about the first flight at the end of August or in September.

  • BBD’s second quarter slide presentation is here.

CEO Pierre Beaudoin said on the earnings call that the integration of the APU and engines is running smoothly and software upgrades are being upgraded but is taking longer than anticipated. He said first flight is to be in “coming weeks.”

During the Q&A, BBD said “nothing has changed as far as entry into service” despite previous statements that the flight test program would take 12 months, and this timeframe was reiterated. So this certainly suggests EIS slips from mid-2014 to late third quarter at the earliest. (Some analysts yesterday slipped the EIS to early 2015 and we tend to agree.)

BBD would not comment on the possible impact the delays will have on compensation coming.

The company also said that the “earned value” of tests were not quite as anticipated, citing an example of wiring being stalled upside down that requires up to two days to fix rather than a half-day for the anticipated testing.

“The test for the first Flight Test Vehicle is much more intense than for the next FTVs, so it takes a lot more time,” BBD said. “This is the first time…we’re learning.”

The flight test program will have five CS100s and two CS300s and additional tests with the first couple of production airplanes.

“We’ll adjust as we need to adjust [the flight test schedule of 12 months” depending on what emerges.

Embraer’s E2 program begins in the regional arena and comes up into the CSeries arena, and EIS is from 2018 and it is a derivative, Bombardier noted.

“We have two very good products in a unique market. The airlines say they have a need for a smaller airplane with seat costs for the larger airplanes, and the A319 and 737 [700/7] do not do,” the company said.

8 Comments on “CSeries first flight: late August or September (analysis)

    • Bombardier could have said that the CSeries first flight was expected to take place before the end of August. But they already said it was going to happen before the end of July. Earlier it was the end of June. And before that it was the end of the year (2012). It is safer to say in a few weeks. But what does in a few weeks really mean? We don’t know and they probably don’t know themselves. Generally speaking, with software issues it is more difficult to asses the situation than it is with the hardware.

      Software issues grounded the CRJ1000 for ten months shortly after its maiden flight. I don’t expect the CSeries to remain on the ground for that long a period, but I would not be surprised if the delay lasted a few more months.

      http://www.amazon.com/Mythical-Man-Month-Software-Engineering-Anniversary/dp/0201835959/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375381837&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mythical+man-month

  1. “During the Q&A, BBD said ‚Äúnothing has changed as far as entry into service.”

    That position is getting harder to defend each day that goes by. I am actually surprised they would say that at this stage. Of course they could still save one or two months on the flight test schedule, but not enough to compensate for the current delays.

    But as I do the math I cannot reconcile an EIS in early 2015 with a twelve month testing period. If the CSeries takes to the air next September it should be certified by September 2014 at the latest. And EIS should follow shortly after that, right? An EIS in the last quarter of 2014 would make more sense to me.

  2. “… running smoothly and software upgrades are being upgraded but … ”

    Maybe the C-Series uses the Flash player, which would explain constant upgrade-madness.

  3. The strategic question IMO hanging over the CSeries is that if an airline / alliance network runs a fleet of 80-120 seat E2 jets and 140-200 seat NB’s is that good enough or do they need a CS100-300.

    The wing off the E2 seems large, the aircraft no doubt have seriously gained payload-range.

    • I think your 140-200 NB assumption is based on the use of the A319 and MAX-7 at the low end, which are the least efficient members of their families, and have attracted few orders to date.

      That said, if the number of aircraft required by a particular airline in the 150-200 seat range is small, the commonality argument might win over the efficiency.

  4. Looking at the accumulated delays in the development phases preceding final assembly, the program is about 12-18 months late compared to the original schedule.

    • The CSeries is currently 13 months late compared to the original schedule. The programme was formally launched at Farnborough on July 13, 2008 with a 60 month development schedule. First flight was expected at that time to take place in mid 2012. So it would be fair to say that right now the CSeries is a little over a year late.

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