The Montreal Gazette did a little digging with Canadian regulators and came up with this interesting piece, deducing the first flight of the Bombardier CSeries will come within the “next 11 days” (the story was dated Aug. 19).
The Gazette also reported that the CSeries test program will extend to May 2015. Bombardier says this includes the CS300, which has an entry-into-service timeline roughly 12 months after the CS100. On Aug. 19, several Canadian media reported a new analyst note concluding that EIS of the CS100 will slip into early 2015, something we also suggested in an earlier post. The Gazette also quotes from the analyst note.
The first flight, of course, while a major milestone is only the beginning of a testing program that BBD says will take a year and some believe will take longer. Since this is the first clean-sheet design in the 100-149 seat category (or even up to 200 seats) since the development of the A320 in the early 1980s, and it is the first airplane with the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine, there are enormous stakes riding on the program. The CSeries is a huge gamble for Bombardier, its bet to move from the regional jet era it invented to mainline jets, into a sector largely abandoned by Airbus and Boeing but which has drawn fierce reaction from Airbus with aggressive pricing for the larger A320.
For Pratt & Whitney, the CSeries flight test and subsequent EIS is the culmination of a research-and-development gamble of more than 20 years to regain its once-dominant place in single-aisle aircraft power supply.
Since CFM retained the exclusive supplier agreement for Boeing on the 737 MAX, and because CFM so far has won about half the orders for engines on the A320neo, PW won’t reclaim the dominant position it had in the early years of the jet age. But With the A320neo, PW has half the orders, a vast improvement in market share from its IAE V2500 engine on the A320ceo family. But PW’s GTF gamble with CSeries led to the selection by Airbus for the neo, and along with the Mitsubishi MRJ sole-source engine supplier followed by a shared source on the Irkut MS-21 and more recently the sole source on the Embraer E-Jet E2, PW is clearly back as a major player.
Bombardier’s flight tests will validate (one presumes) the promises made by BBD and PW for the engine-airframe combination: the quietest engine, the most fuel efficient engine, the most economical engine-airframe combination.
The Boeing 787, for all its difficulties, brought a new level of excitement to aviation with its ground-breaking technologies. The A350 XWB didn’t have the same panache, coming behind the 787 as it did. If the CSeries lives up to its promises in flight testing, we believe the orders will start coming. The aviation industry has become the State of Missouri motto, “Show Me,” as a result of the program delays at Airbus, Boeing and now BBD. We look forward to a program that goes smoothly after first flight.