Odds and Ends: Flight test progress for A350, 787-9, CSeries; New A320, 737 cabins; JetBlue tails

Flight Test Programs: Here’s a quick update on the flight test programs underway right now:

Airbus A350XWB: The sole flying test platform in the A350XWB program has accumulated  150 hours since its first flight just before the Paris Air Show in June. The second test plane is due to enter the program this month. The program is believed to have completed its VMU (unstick) testing.

Boeing 787-9:  The second member of the 787 family has accumulated 40 flying hours since its first flight on Sept. 17. Aviation Week has a good article on the flight test progress. The airplane is nearing its flutter testing.

Bombardier CSeries: Flight Test Vehicle 1 returned to the skies Tuesday after two weeks since its first flight Sept. 16. Further software upgrades and analyzing test results were stated as the reasons for the gap. The airplane reached 25,000 feet and Mach 0.60 in its second test flight, which lasted four hours.

New A320/737 cabins: Interior maker Zodiac has designed retrofit cabins for the Boeing 737NG and the Airbus A320 families. The 737NG cabin is similar to the Boeing Sky Interior installed on every new 737, but Boeing didn’t offer this as a retrofit to the installed base. Zodiac’s design actually carries more luggage than Boeing’s. The Zodiac A320 cabin is similar.

APEX reported in 2012 that Zodiac had designed an A320 cabin. Zodiac has this detail of its 737NG cabin offering.

Only Qantas Airways has purchased Zodiac’s 737 interior and so far there are no customers for the A320 version. But this is about to change. Here is the story we wrote for APEX.

JetBlue Tails: The airline’s blog has a nice compilation of all its tail liveries here.

44 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Flight test progress for A350, 787-9, CSeries; New A320, 737 cabins; JetBlue tails

    • Nice picture. I like how the wing blends into the body fairing and the trailing edge continues with a lip on the fairing.

  1. Bombardier: We will be combining our flight tests with activities on the ground as we further validate systems data at our CIASTA (CSeries Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area) where we expect to compare tests and ready the systems for further in-flight analysis,” said Rob Dewar, Vice President and General Manager, CSeries Program.

    To me this indicates that they are still struggling to sort out software issues. 🙁

    • Can the CSeries be lengthen greater than the CS300, and are their plans to do so?

      • Yes it can. That model would likely be called the CS500 and is widely expected. I would not be surprised if Bombardier had already initiated the detailed design in order to bring it into production as soon as possible. But for the time being it remains a big secret. I guess Bombardier does not want to wake up the sleeping giants (A&B). 😉

      • Yes, the C-Series can be lengthened beyond the CS-300. Both the other two composite body airplanes, the B-787 and the A-350, already have a double stretch model. So I see no real obstacles to a double stretched C-Series, which I’ll call the CS-500X for now.
        Obviously a CS-500X would need higher thrust engines, due to an increase in MTOW, than the current PW-1519G/-1521G/-1524G engines of the CS-100/-300. Perhaps a clipped fan version of the PW-1124G/-1127G/-1133G or PW-1428G/-1431G? It would need to carry 150-175 pax (2 class mixed) and compete directly with the B-737-800NG/-8MAX and A-320CEO/NEO. It will need a bigger wing than the current CS-100/-300 (115′ wingspan) to be able to go 3000+ nm and have a cargo capacity between the A-320 (1320 ft3) and the B-737-800 (1590 ft3). It should also have a SFC at least 3%-5%, or more, below either the NEO (either engine) or the MAX.
        A CS-500X would force Boeing to the NSA and Airbus to their A-320 replacement well before either OEM wanted to develop those airplanes.
        I might add, the current CS-300 (about 115 firm orders) has out sold the A-319NEO (about 26) and B-737-7MAX (about 55), combined.

        • TB, when you write “both the other two composite body airplanes, the B-787 and the A-350, already have a double stretch”, you make it sound like if the CSeries also had a composite fuselage. But only the fuselage aft section is made out of CFRP. So is the empennage (horizontal + vertical) and the wings. The constant cross-section fuselage segments are all made out of aluminium-lithium. And I think that for the cockpit it is conventional aluminium, but I am not sure though.

          I agree with you that the CS500 would probably need a bigger wing to be able to offer a 3000 nm range, which I think is a must. Unless the extra fuel capacity has already been engineered in along with the bigger MTOW, as keesje is trying to suggest above.

          I also agree that the CS500 would need to retain a decisive advantage in terms of fuel burn. But in my opinion that would more than likely be above your 3%-5% figure. And if indeed that’s the case the CS500 would then make a serious dent in the current duopoly.

        • keesje, I think you will agree the current 115′ wingspan of the C-Series is good enough for about 2500-2600 nm. But it would need to at least match the wingspan of the of the B-737NG (117′ not including the blended winglets). It is currently wider than the A-320 wing, including sharklets.

      • KC, what is that double stretched a350 called?? The -1000 is a single stretch 😉

        LH cancelled 3 a380 while ordering the 25 a350

      • TopBoom: “Both the other two composite body airplanes, the B-787 and the A-350, already have a double stretch model”

        The A350XWB has only been stretched once. The A350-800XWB is a shrink. The A350-900XWB is the baseline model and the A350-1000XWB is a stretch. Should Airbus produce the A350-1100XWB in the future that would be a double stretch.

  2. Flight testing of all 3 of the world’s newest airliners at the same time must be some kind of record. I cannot recall anytime in civilian jet powered airliner history where 3 different airliners were in flight testing in 3 different countries.

  3. Surprising that despite the hawks at A.net monitoring the A350’s flight testing, Airbus managed to do the VMU tests and no one knew lol. I guess it was because everyone was expecting it to be at Istres. Also, I thought since the VMU tests are a major part of the flight test campaign, there’d have been a press statement?

  4. The Vmu test does seem to be a bit medieval.
    Surely load sensors on the nose and main landing gear could offer the desired results without the drama of a shower of sparks and risk of damage.
    So many other tests are done by computer simulation, I am quite sure this particular test represents more nostalgia than practicality

    • The test has to be done for certification and to validate the simulations. A big part of the flight test is dedicated to validate and adjust simulation results. You can simulate a lot, but you will never be sure if it’s BS or not if you don’t compare simulations to test. Extra stresses to the aft fuselage are taken into account and a reinforcement is installed to take the load.

    • The test is run at the highest physical angle of attack for the wings ( incl HL devices ). .. And you have the load sensors available anyway, but you still need
      the tale scraping angle of attack to make your measurements respectively produce your qualification criteria..

    • Vmu is another legacy of the ill-fated Comet 1. No one realized that the airplane could be over-rotated on takeoff so that the wing stalled. Excessive angle-of-attack meant that lift was too low and drag was too high so that the airplane could not “unstick” from the runway.

      From “Wikipedia:”:
      “On 26 October 1952, the Comet suffered its first hull loss when a BOAC flight departing Rome’s Ciampino airport failed to become airborne and ran into rough ground at the end of the runway. Two passengers sustained minor injuries, and the aircraft, G-ALYZ, was a total loss. On 3 March 1953, a new Canadian Pacific Airlines Comet 1A, registered CF-CUN and named Empress of Hawaii, failed to become airborne while attempting takeoff from Karachi, Pakistan, on a delivery flight to Australia. The aircraft plunged into a dry drainage canal and collided with an embankment, killing all five crew and six passengers on board. The accident was the first fatal jetliner crash, as well as the Comet’s first accident to result in fatalities. In response, Canadian Pacific cancelled its remaining order for a second Comet 1A and never operated the type in commercial service.”

      “Both early accidents were originally attributed to pilot error, as over-rotation had led to a loss of lift from the leading edge of the aircraft’s wings. It was later determined that the Comet’s wing profile experienced a loss of lift at a high angle of attack, and its engine inlets also suffered a lack of pressure recovery in the same conditions. As a result, de Havilland re-profiled the wings’ leading edge with a pronounced droop and wing fences were added to control spanwise flow.”

      [Soon after the first 707’s entered service in 1958, Boeing discovered that the early 707-100’s and -300’s had marginal Vmu and directional stability characteristics; a ventral fin plus an enlarged vertical tail and rudder had to be retrofitted to all affected airplanes.]

    • A bit of a surprise.
      Or is it an mis/over-statement like in the “AF find A380 unsuitable” article ?

    • Too funny… In the previous LH order thread, many on here stated that 777X order likely came at the expense of the 748. And now it looks a bit different?

      Hail the the Mighty 777X… The A380 Killer! 😉

      • You need to adjust your specs, clearly the victim has a hump back 😉
        If the 777X will kill anything it will be the 748i.

        • Uwe, I have two questions for you:

          As a direct result of the LH A-359 and B-777-9 order;

          How many B-747-8s, with about 370 seats, were canceled?

          How many A-380, with about 525 seats, were canceled?

          The case can now be made the B-777X will kill off both VLA types.

      • Thanks for the advise Uwe. I did as you requested and had my eye’s checked out… After the “Adjustment”, It seems the prognosis for the A380 is even worse then we suspected. In fact, it’s terminal… Sorry 🙁

        I guess obesity is not just an American problem…

        On the other hand.. I guess those 2 big beautiful “Double D” GE engines on that Hot sexy 777X were just too much to compete with. Those old 4 sagging dry milk utters on the A380 seem a bit classic now…

      • Lufthansa originally ordered 15 A380s and 20 747-8Is. Now that they have cancelled one frame each from the initial orders made, the combined fleet of 33 VLAs will still have a considerable larger capacity, or number of seats, than the 747-400 fleet that they are replacing. Hence, your “adjustment” has got much more to do about the management at LH and their conservative growth strategy, than anything else.

        Much ado about nothing, I’d say.

      • Funny thing is that if this was the -8i losing 3 frames, I’m pretty sure there would be more than one of the Airbus apologists here telling us how significant it was. While the 777x may well kill the 748 (which was arguably DOA), between LH+AF clearly showing diminished appetites for the type, and Emirates (holding almost 40% of the orders) already asking for the engine enhancement roadmap, things just don’t look good for the 388 either no matter how you spin it.

      • If this was the 747-8 losing 3 orders, the “loss” in relation to total backlog (747-8F + 747-8I), would represent about 5.7 percent of the order book, while for the A380 a reduction of 3 frames represents just a little more than 2.1 percent of the order book, so yes, there’s certainly a difference.

        As for the word “apologists”, what exactly does Airbus, or anyone who didn’t jump on the 787 bandwagon back in 2005/2006, have to apologise for?

      • Apologies if I used a word that you’re unfamiliar with, but look up the definition. I’m definitely not claiming the -8 is in great shape–as I said, DOA–but that doesn’t mean that the 388 is a winner. The fact that you are so willing to easily dismiss a cancellation by a major player, especially one that leaves the type at -3 for the year when it’s not even sold out thru 2015 is the exact type of bias I was speaking to. If I’m wrong about the prognosis, go ahead and put it out there instead of going ahead and proving my point (What’s with the 787 ref?)
        This is not some zero sum run up to 1000 or 1200 VLAnd it looks like the A351 and 777x are cannibalizing their respective big brothers. If anything the JAL A350-1000, while a huge win for Airbus, is also the number one international carrier from Japan, with their number one hub being a slot restricted airport in a huge market (isn’t this pretty much the prototypical VLA customer?) choosing NOT to buy the A388. Yes, they didn’t buy a 748 either but that’s not my point. The 748 may be one foot in the grave (I’m gonna put it out there that I will be surprised if B gets another -8i order) but that doesn’t mean that everyone will suddenly be lining up for the biggest Airbus.

      • In general, an “apologist” is a person who argues in favour of something unpopular and tends to be seen in a negative light, as defensive people who make excuses.

        Fact is, the A380 is not universally unpopular. On the contrary, it’s very popular among passengers. Those who don’t like it seem to be either residing in the US, have never travelled on it, and usually belong to a vocal and insignificant group of opinionated bloggers who seemingly jumped on the 787 “drug-like-rush”-bandwagon*** back in 2005-2007, while reveling in the A380 production co#k-up.

        Hence, I’m not an apologist per your definition.

        Certainly, Lufthansa, Air France etc. are facing increased competition from worldwide, high-end airlines, like Etihad Airways and Emirates, on previously uncontested 744 routes. With Emirates apparently wanting to double their A380 fleet, it may look as if A380s that could previously been going to European blue-chip airlines, are now instead going to the Gulf in droves.

        *** http://www.richardaboulafia.com/shownote.asp?id=295

      • An apologist defends or argues in justification. There may or may not be an unpopular aspect to it. Lets not argue the semantics of the word, my point–and I am stating it clearly, so you don’t have to argue over what I really meant– is the bias that is so obvious in the outright dismissal of anything news that might seem negative for one party, while inflating the bad news for another. Again, please don’t put up straw men with the 787 and a380 sob story. I am not doubting the creature comforts of the A380, and no need to take it so personally, unless of course you have a need to take it personally… in which case I can’t help you.

        Unfortunately I’ve addressed the point on Emirates. They want more, but they also want an engine upgrade roadmap before they’re lining up (admittedly might be a nego tactic, or maybe RR or GE/PW will bite on this one). In the meantime, in Europe LH and AF have basically come out and stated their positions. Here in Asia, supposedly the ideal VLA mkt, we have JL and CX going with the 350-1000 instead Doesn’t seem like votes of confidence and popularity, 3 months from the last fully booked year for the A380.

        I’m sure the next step will be to compare A380 to 747-8 numbers, but thats aiming way low. Even if the A380 sells 10 times the 747-8i, we’re still not halfway to 1000 passenger models combined, and please note that for the A380 to get near to that point, it needs orders equivalent of Emirates, Ethiad AND Qatar’s current orders combined, and then add a Singapore and some.

      • I would assume that you’ve never used the term “Boeing apologist”. If you’ve done so in the past, perhaps you could provide a link to where and when. If not, it goes to show that it is you who are biased, not me.

        As Uwe pointed out in an earlier thread, ”I only see one extreme group that defines the A380 as worthless by design. The remaining contributors seem to have a realistic vision of (more or less) success over a longer time horizon”.

        To use the dictionary definition as “proof” of a term’s neutrality, or proof of any of its meanings, is to ignore the way that language works. Language doesn’t adhere to strict objective definitions; it takes on meanings in the contexts where it is used. In political discourse, to say that someone is an “apologist” for a particular vantage point has come to mean that they make excuses on its behalf. Of course, it’s not necessarily an insulting word, but it does have a critical edge and can be negatively laden (e.g. “Airbus apologist”).

        Your starting point when you entered this discourse was to conclude that because of LH’s three A388 cancellations; some seemingly confused rumblings about AF+LH; and “EK asking for the engine enhancement roadmap”, ”things just don’t look good for the 388 either no matter how you spin it”.

        What you seem to be saying then is that if one doesn’t agree with you that the A380 and 747-8 are in the same boat, and that the former is in dire straits, one is an “Airbus apologist” as per your definition.

        The idea of a person being an “apologist” for a multinational corporation that he/she hasn’t got a stake in is utterly absurd. Sure, one may have preferences for a certain product, or one may be interested in such things as sound manufacturing and product development strategies, and the apparent lack of such at competitors, but that doesn’t make one an “apologist”. Far from it.

        As for those who jumped on the 787 bandwagon back in 2005/2006, while hammering everything A380; are you totally oblivious to fact that in quite a few online discourses, many of those individuals used to refer to contrarians, or anyone not subscribing to that point of view, as “Airbus apologists”; so no, it’s not “putting up strawmen” mentioning that fact. Hence, this has nothing to do with taking things personally. Nice try though.

        Now, I agree that the A380 will need to be upgraded by the time of EIS of the 777-9X. That’s around 2020. I don’t think Airbus disagrees either. Why then make such a fuzz about it?


        However, apart from new state-of-the-art engines, the development of a stretch aircraft and an upgrade of the current frame, including certification costs, should IMJ not cost more than a couple of billion dollars.

        If Airbus is to maintain the current production level of 30 A388 airframes per year through 2019, they need around 50 additional firm A388 orders. Is that an unrealistic goal? We’ll see what happens next month at Dubai, or by the end of the year. Anyway, comparing the VLA-order rate with the steady stream of orders for single-aisle aircraft is pretty silly. Going several years without orders, therefore, is not necessarily bad for a VLA if the backlog equals 4-5 years of production.

        Apparently, Emirates wants to double their A380 fleet. Their last A388 on order is due to be delivered in late 2017, while the first A388 replacement aircraft for their 90 unit strong A388 fleet is due in the summer of 2020. Clearly, Emirates wants a stretch. I wouldn’t be too surprised, therefore, if Airbus launch it in say 2015. In order to optimize performance, Airbus could put two 4.5m folding wing tips on the aircraft in order to reduce take-off thrust levels in a similar fashion as the thrust reduction from the GE90-115BL to the GE9X. Hence, the take-off thrust level of a 12 frame stretched A380-900 with a MTOW of 590 metric tonnes should not be greater than for the current A388. The engine should have the same TSFC as the GE9X or the conceptual Rolls Royce RB3025 engine. Incidentally, this engine could also be offered on the A350-800 having its MTOW reduced to around 230 metric tonnes, in addition to, of course, the A388 with the “new” wing.

        As for your last point, you seem to be unaware of the fact that Airbus has always said that they want at least 50 percent of the VLA market. Hence, Airbus doesn’t need to sell “1000” A380 airframes , or whatever arbitrary number you seem to be cooking up. If Airbus manages to produce 300 A380s through 2019, and between 300 and 400 the following decade, I’m quite sure they would be quite satisfied.


        • OK, Everybody, knock off the “apologist” line of discussion. This personalized back-and-forth is not permitted per our Comment Rules.


      • I understand that Airbus only wants 50% of the VLA, market, but based on Airbus’ own estimation since 2000 that VLA will be ~1200 frames over the next 20 years, 50% of that number would be 600 by 2020 right? Of course we can talk enhancements, but the fact is it WILL cost a couple of billion dollars, all of which the A380 is not justifying. Right now, yes, Emirates will order more if they improve it, but this is the A380+a whole chunk of change. We all know the A380 can be stretched already, today, surely providing stunning economics, but if this is such a winner, why not announce it already, instead of the A350-800, even? Could it be that this would not be much of a profitable endeavor, just as an even longer ranged A380 wouldn’t be profitable. Who, short of the Gulf carriers, need more seats and more range?

        Again, not saying the A380 is not a great aircraft to fly on, a technical achievement, and a fine flagship. I am just saying that it is just getting killed by the A350 and 777x, and is far from a commercial success. If 300 frames in 15 years and then throwing another couple of billion into it to sell 3-400 more frames by 2030 (thats 6-700 over 30 years, roughly half of what the 747 delivered) is commercial success, then you’re right, I have no argument, but as it stands, the A380 is currently the Veyron of the skies.

      • ~1200 frames over the next 20 years, 50% of that number would be 600 by 2020 right?

        No, that’s not the right way of calculating this. 2006 was set to be the original EIS year for the A380 at the time of the launch in December, 2000. Hence, 2006 or 2007 should be the year(s) from which to start counting.

        If you start to count as of today, you should keep in mind that the second decade of a 20 year forecast, in a market that doubles every 15 years, should see more orders and deliveries than the first one.

        Of course we can talk enhancements, but the fact is it WILL cost a couple of billion dollars, all of which the A380 is not justifying.

        The A330-200 derivative programme was around a $500 million undertaking in 1997; in then-year dollars; or about $724 million in 2013. Hence, a couple of billion is really nothing in the Large Commercial Aircraft (LCA) business. Also, the A380 will have much higher margins than the A330-200 (i.e. economy of scales etc.)

        By 2020 all of the development costs for the A380-800 will already have been paid for. That includes RLI-loans.

        Right now, yes, Emirates will order more if they improve it

        Emirates will probably order more of the existing A380s for delivery in 2018, 2019 and 2020. After mid 2020 Emirates will initialise a rollover of its initial fleet of A388s with new A380s, based on their “12 year rule”, all of which will have been completed by 2029.

        We all know the A380 can be stretched already, today, surely providing stunning economics,

        I’m of the opinion that the A380 should be stretched and upgraded with new engines that are at least 10 percent more efficient than the current Trent-900s and GP7200 engines; or about the same increase in efficiency as that of the projected GE9X TSFC delta over the GE90-155B. With a span increase of 9m – accomplished by adding two 4.5m 777X-style folding wingtips — a “new” re-engined A388 would have about the same efficiency delta in fuel consumption over the current A388 as that of the 777-9X vs. the 777-300ER.

        Could it be that this would not be much of a profitable endeavor, just as an even longer ranged A380 wouldn’t be profitable. Who, short of the Gulf carriers, need more seats and more range?

        A 12 frame stretch of the A388 (i.e. 7 frames ahead of the wing, and 5 frames aft of the wing), will increase the lower deck LD3 capacity from 36 on the A388 to 46 on the A380-900. In comparison, both the 777-300ER and the A350-1000 have a lower hold capacity of 44 LD3s. The rule of thumb is one LD-3 for every 25 passengers. Hence, a premium heavy A380-900 should have an additional cargo capacity of somewhere between that of the A350-900 and the A350-1000. That’s not too bad, and should be good enough for Cathay Pacific, which has complained about the lack of extra cargo-carrying capability on the lower deck of the A380-800. Also, one A389 should be equal to the passenger load of around two 77Ws in a CX typical configuration.

        I’m of the opinion that an A380-900 will be significantly more successful than the original A388. Now, add the re-engined A388 in addition to an extended range niche R-model having the same MTOW as that of the A389, and you’d have a family. As a matter of fact, a “family” of aircraft has always proved to be more successful than a stand alone product.

        I am just saying that it is just getting killed by the A350 and 777x, and is far from a commercial success.

        “Killed” according to whom?

        In 2030, Emirates could have a fleet of over 200 A380s, or possibly an A380-fleet even approaching 300 units. They are already the world’s No. 1 airline by international traffic and one of the most profitable one. All of the current sectors flown by 777-300ERs can and probably will be replaced or augmented by A380s. The new airport being built at Jebel Ali will have an eventual capacity of three to four times higher than the current Dubai International Airport.

        Isn’t it ironic then that it’s the A380, in particular, which is forcing other carriers to act and adapt. Qantas has seemingly seen the light (i.e. if you can’t beat them, join them). SQ, for example, has been severely impacted by the competition from the Gulf, and has consequently capped its A380 fleet while ordering 70 A350s, many of which will be used on direct flights to many more European destinations than what is offered today. Still, they will have a hard time competing with Emirates which offers many more one-stop options and frequencies and on hardware with significantly lower CASM.

        For example, EK is now flying three times daily to Auckland, the capital of a remote island states. 😉



        If 300 frames in 15 years and then throwing another couple of billion into it to sell 3-400 more frames by 2030 (thats 6-700 over 30 years, roughly half of what the 747 delivered) is commercial success.

        ………or about the same number of airframe deliveries in the first 20 years as that of the 747-100/-200/-300. If you want to judge the A380 programme based on how the 747 programme performed, at least you should use the same metrics. Anything else is IMO intellectually dishonest. If you want to compare today the 747 to the A380 sales-wise, you should wait for the year 2047 to roll around (i.e. counting from the time of the programme launch).

      • Hmm, did I write Auckland?

        It’s Wellington, of course, which is the capital city of New Zealand! 🙂

  5. About the 747-8? Don’t know they cancelled 1 and still have 12 on order and 20 options.

    • My guess is the 748i options have been folded into the 777x order.
      The “Flottenplanungs” pdf had zero 748i beyond the set of 19
      known so far. ( Then it didn’t mention any changes to A380 planned
      fleet size through to 2025 ).
      We’ll see.

  6. Certainly seems a bit odd in view of the fact that they announced plans to order two more earlier in the year.

  7. Lets be fair.
    The A380’s were never ordered. The announced intention to order has not been implemented.

      • Any information around on who might take up Airbus on its offer of ?2? A380 slots in ?2015? ( Though seemingly with fixed noncustomisable “as ordered” features ) ?

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