Update: First flight touchdown at 12:24 EDT, 2 1/2 hours.
Bombardier’s multi-billion dollar gamble to leap from regional airliner manufacturer into the mainline arena took off this morning at about 9:54 AM EDT. The CSeries CS100 Flight Test Vehicle 1 took to the air in clear skies at Montreal Mirabel Airport.
BBD’s flight tests are scheduled to last 12 months. There will be five Flight Test Vehicles based on the 110-seat CS100. Two more FTVs, based on the 135-seat (two class) CS300 will join the program later.
The CS100 is planned to enter service 12 months after the first flight; the CS300 is planned to enter service six months after the CS100.
Bombardier will be testing and monitoring all flight characteristics, performance and systems parameters.
Engine maker Pratt & Whitney will be keenly watching the test flights and evaluating its new engine, the P1000G Pure Power Geared Turbo Fan. This is PW’s multi-billion dollar bet to become a major player again in commercial transports. The GTF has been in development nearly 30 years.
PW, of course, spent the last several years testing the GTF as the company narrowed in on the design that has now been chosen for five platforms: the CSeries, the A320neo family, the Mitsubishi MRJ regional jet, Embraer’s E-Jet E2 re-engine, and a shared position on the Irkut MC-21 from Russia.
PW promises fuel savings of up to 16% over today’s engines, a point better than the competing CFM LEAP. It promises reliability as good as its V2500 on the A320 family. PW undertook years of tests on the ground and flight tests on an Airbus A340 and a PW-owned Boeing 747SP, but flight tests on the CSeries-the first mating of the new engine to the first of the five platforms-will be closely scrutinized to see if performance validates all the tests.
Robert Saia, vice president of PW’s Next Generation Product Family, tells us that ground tests and PW’s Flying Test Bed (FTB) provided the data PW needed to make its promises for the engine. Validating this data on FTV 1 is only part of the engine side of the test program. Overall power capability, specific thrust requirements (notably for go-around situations and spool-up, or re-acceleration, time) will be run during the flight testing.
PW promises an engine that will enable the CSeries to have a 70% smaller noise footprint than its in-production competitors flying today, the Boeing 737-700 and Airbus A319. But this will be the first time the GTF is flown on the plane for which it was designed, so acoustical tests will be performed.
Proving the CSeries and the GTF are as quiet as promised is especially important to Bombardier. It’s sold the airplane to airlines serving noise-sensitive airports in London and Sweden. Canada’s Porter Airlines has a conditional order for up to 30 CS100s for use at Toronto’s downtown City Airport, where noise is an especially sensitive issue.
Acoustical tests don’t have to be performed at these airports, but may be done at any airport that has a certified, noise-calibrated system.
Another key element PW will be watching is the electric communication between the engine and the cockpit and validating maintenance troubleshooting guidelines that will be given to airlines, which must be compatible with the flight manual.