Odds and Ends: Next phase for CSeries; the C-17

Next phase for CSeries: Canada’s Financial Post has a report on how the Bombardier CSeries, powered by the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine, is “ushering” in a new era of quiet flight.

As we noted in a post last Monday, the engines are key to the success of the CSeries, given the promised sharply lower noise profile and fuel burn.

Speaking of noise, a noisy crowd appeared before a town hall meeting in Toronto where Porter Airlines’ proposal to fly the CSeries into the downtown Toronto City Airport was the topic. The airport, located in the lake a few hundred yards off the shoreline, is highly noise sensitive. Porter placed a conditional order for up to 30 CS100s for operation out of the airport, which is currently restricted to turbo-props for commercial service. The low noise promises for the CSeries is key to Porter’s conditional order, which will be firmed only if a tripartite governmental agreement lifts the jet ban.

Aviation Week, meanwhile, has this report about the first flight and the challenges facing the flight test program, which is currently planned for one year from last Monday’s first flight.

Keeping the C-17 alive: Boeing announced the end of production of the C-17 in 2015, but Defense News has an article suggesting how the C-17 might live on.

19 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Next phase for CSeries; the C-17

  1. The plan to trade in older C-17s for new models is interesting, but I just don’t see how it can be affordable for the USAF. A plan like this will come at the expense of other programs the USAF needs. SAC could use a few more airplanes, and India has yet to exercise its options for another 10 C-17s.

    Since 1947 the USAF has had a “lead the fleet” program of every type airplane it has flown. These airplanes fly more hours and cycles than their sisters do so the USAF can track the type’s aging and need for maintenance overhauls and modifications/upgrades. The C-17 would be no different, I am sure there are a few of them in such a program. A trade-in program for these and some other higher than average used C-17s would disrupt that program. But they could be replaced by others with fewer hours, it would just take several years to get back to where the program is today.

    The traded in airplanes would need extensive overhauls to make them marketable enough to assure their new owners would be able to fly them for at least 20-25 years. If Boeing could keep the price low enough such a USAF trade-in program could easily compete with the A-400M sales program.

    • The colour of the fuselage may be the biggest comon point between the C-17 and A400M…

      • I saw a per pallet cost comparing the C-17 and KC-46 and the C-17 costs nearly three times as much to operate.

        There is already a massive oversupply of capacity and is that vital to keep it when the KC-46 is eventually going to do it so much cheaper? mothball some of the C-17’s and keep them for special occasions if its that important.

      • The utility of the KC-46 as an equipment transport is low, many of the things the Army ships around the world do not come in pallets if you know what I mean. The C-17 is mostly for that stuff. A 767 (or A330 or 777) derivative wouldn’t answer to the requirements.

  2. What about refurbishing used C-17s and sell them to the USAF? Their new owners would be able to fly them for at least 20-25 years.
    The guy asking if this plan is to keep the line open forever hits the nail.

  3. It struck me that if Toronto residents are truely concerned about the enviroment then they should not only allow the CSeries at the Toronto Island airport, they should also start looking at ways to encourage airlines to switch to the next generation engines at Pearson International. The GTF engines produce at least 50% less NOX. Every passenger on a CSeries is one less on a more poluting aircraft. i live on a flight path and I want less noisy, less poluting planes sooner than 10 – 15 years from now.

    • Porter will use quiete cleaner technology to boost flights until they’re stopped by environmental restrictions again. Correct?

  4. How much of a city’s pollution (such as Toronto) comes from (narrow body) aircraft, really? I am guessing it is around 1 percent. Maybe less. If people move into a flight path (not sure but isn’t Toronto’s airport over 50 years old?) they really have little reason to complain.

  5. In another Toronto Star article it is mentioned that “there was the man from Bloor and Runnymede concerned about flyover “jackhammer” jet sound, “Gord from the Beaches” who has a flight path over his house, and a doctor concerned about black carbon.” That his indicative of the public’s ignorance of the standard setting virtues of the new CSeries aircraft.

    The lowering of the noise level offered by the CSeries is truly revolutionary. We never had such a drop in one shot before. Noise reduction measures have been implemented ever since jet engines started to scream around airports in the late 50s. It has been a gradual process that has given us a steady decline in the noise level at a rate of several decibels for each new generation of jet engines. But what the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine is now introducing is a quantum leap in terms of noise reduction.

    Speaking of leap, the new CFM International LEAP engine will certainly offer an important reduction in terms of noise, but nothing as revolutionary as the GTF does. The reason is simple and fortuitous. It is not that P&W made a bigger effort to reduce the noise level. Pratt actually put very little effort to reduce the noise of its new design. It came there by accident! It was not a goal per say, but happened to be a consequence of the gear technology that was used to increase the turbine speed for efficiency purposes, while maintaining the fan speed at a reasonable level. But Pratt selected the perfect gear reduction ratio to keep the fan speed as low as possible, which brings the noise down, while bringing the turbine speed as high as possible for better fuel efficiency.

    But noise pollution and fuel efficiency are not the only factors to consider in the case of the GTF engine on the CSeries. There is also the issue of emissions. The GTF engine makes less noise, burns less fuel and pollutes much less as well. It also carries more passengers than a turboprop aircraft. Which means lower frequency of flights, just like say the Airbus A380 versus the Boeing 787. All these factors combined together make the CSeries the ideal aircraft for environmentally sensitive areas.

    What’s interesting in the Toronto Island debate is that Bombardier is the manufacturer of both the Q400 and CSeries aircraft. That means it will be able to conduct comparative tests under controlled conditions in its own facilities. BBD will document the process in order to validate its various claims. And if the CSeries makes less noise than the Q400, which I think it will, then the Toronto Airport authorities will have no other choice but to approve the CSeries, like London and Stockholm will be more than happy to do.

  6. It has been argued here and elsewhere that the CSeries EIS date could be postponed until after the first quarter of 2015. This made no sense to me, for if the flight test programme is to last twelve months after first flight it would mean the first aircraft should be operational in the Fall of 2014.

    But there are indications to the effect that the flight test programme could last more than one year. Pierre Beaudoin, the Bombardier CEO, was reported as saying that flight testing could last a year and a half. And in the above Aviation Week article there are several allusions to that effect:

    – But with the focus shifting to service entry, assumptions made when the development program was laid out are being reexamined to see whether Bombardier can deliver the first aircraft as planned, a year from now.

    – So far, the company is sticking publicly to plans for a five-aircraft, 2,400-hr. test program leading to entry into service (EIS) of the initial 110-seat CS100 in 12 months, but its experience with ground tests is leading Bombardier to review its plans.

    – “We really need to reassess, to take another look at the scope of flight testing and how fast we can do it,” says Rob Dewar, vice president and general manager for CSeries.

    – “But aircraft are more integrated now, so there are more tests to do, and the rules are more challenging, which is new to us,” Dewar says.”

    So based on this new information my most optimistic prognostic for the CSeries EIS has now moved from the Fall of 2014 to the Spring of 2015; or in time for an appearance in airline livery at the next Paris Air Show.

    • 21 months (2013-09 to 2015-06) rather than 12 months? That seems like a rather big jump for the best-case scenario.

      • The way you calculate it thysi adds another nine months. That is true but is not what I meant. I expected first delivery to take place sometime in the Fall of 2014. I now see it more like the Spring of 2015. That adds another six months approximately and would reflect an eighteen month flight test programme versus the official twelve month period that Bombardier had initially announced.

        The reason for the three month discrepancy is that I allow a short period for preparation after flight testing is completed. This period of preparation gives more time for modifications and airline operation requirements. In other words I have always given BBD an additional cushion of three months to absorb last minute surprises. It is neither an optimistic or pessimistic scenario, but a realistic one.

        Bombardier has already absorbed a nine month delay before first flight and nobody is complaining. Another nine months could be added to the official EIS as well and it would still be considered a very successful programme by today’s standards.

      • Thanks, Normand, that makes sense. We’ll have to wait and see when they actually deliver — and what their order book looks like at EIS.

  7. It is not easy to understand just how quiet the GTF engine is going to be, but try and remember how noisy a roadside diesel air compressor of 30 years ago was, which was in the order of 105dBA compared to current units of 85dBA.
    Then walk away from a current model until it merges into the ambient background noise.It is not very far to walk.
    That is the level of impact I foresee for the GTF.

  8. The Toronto Airport noise issue is purely political. For as long as I remember there has been a fight between those around here who want to keep the Islands and harbour ‘Pure’ and those who see a compromise that would allow planes to fly from the Island Airport. After endless politics they agreed 20 or so years ago to ‘planes but no jets’. The issue Porter faces is convincing people that a C series is quieter than the Q400’s that fly there now. Should be easy but tied in is the need for an extension to the runway (I assume because a fully loaded C series requires more room).

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