Bombardier’s CSeries flight testing has now passed the 250 hour flight mark, with three Fight Test Vehicles (FTVs) in the program. FTV 4 is due to become airborne in May. This will be a milestone for the program because this is the airplane that will focus on the performance of the Pratt & Whitney P1000G Pure Power engine that is so integral to the development of Bombardier’s leap into the mainline jet business.
When BBD first proposed aircraft in the 110-130 seat sector, the C110 and C130, in 2004, this was “just another airplane:” little new in the way of airframe technology and using engines then in production. Withdrawn from the market after little interest, BBD revised the airplane into the CS100 and CS300, using an aluminum lithium fuselage and PW’s new Geared Turbo Fan engine.
The GTF promises around 15%-16% fuel consumption reduction and a dramatic decrease in noise footprints. While BBD has gained knowledge of how the GTF is performing from the first three FTVs, No. 4 will be the one that will prove whether all the engineering projections for the engines are correct and whether the engine/airframe combination will meet BBD’s promises of fuel efficiency.
Bombardier also hopes that meeting these representations will get a few customers that have been in the “show me” column to become believers. Disappointed with three program delays that have moved entry-into-service back to the second half of next year, potential customers need some solid results.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for BBD. The CSeries promises quieter operations at especially noise-sensitive airports, including Billy Bishop Airport in BBD’s own backyard in Toronto. Porter Airlines has a conditional order for up to 30 CS100s for use at this downtown airport, and the promised quiet operation is key to government approval to allow commercial jet operations there. This isn’t the only noise-sensitive airport.
Bombardier promotes its CSeries as being more economical than the competing Airbus A319neo and Boeing 737-7 MAX, and our analysis concurs. Sales figures also support BBD: the CS300 has far outsold the A319neo and 737-7.
For Pratt & Whitney, this is the beginning of the end of more than 25 years of research and development of the Geared Turbo Fan, a multi-billion dollar bet to return to the commercial airline engine market it once dominated but lost to rival CFM International when the latter won exclusive rights to power what is now referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic, rights that continue through the 737 MAX.
PW’s bet to return paid off. More than 5,000 GTFs have been sold on the CSeries, the Mitsubishi MRJ and Embraer E-Jet E2, on all of which it is the exclusive power plant; and it has evenly split the market on the A320neo family, on which it competes with CFM and its LEAP engine.
The industry keenly awaits flight test results from BBD’s FTV 4.
The 70-220 seat short/medium haul industry, airlines, suppliers, OEMs all shifting investments adjusting strategies because of a gearbox.
IMO a crucial milestone in the GTF program was Airbus hanging an early GTF under one of their test aircraft in 2008 & giving it an OK.
With 100+ test flights logged in by now, based on FTV1-3 – PurePower-specific aspects being of crucial importance to both BBD and P&W !? – I’d assume most of the key stuff has already been collected and analysed. That relevant results have not yet been made public by either OEM, the referred “FTV4 test programme, pending” being put fwd as their joint alibi for not communicating on the subject, lead to infering that the PW1000G could be a source for some teething concern ?
I don’t have the link, but did read somewhere that the FTVs already flying were coming in 1% below spec, and that FTV4 was hoped to be as promised with some adjustments incorporated. Don’t know if it was considered software or hardware related.
FTV 4 is the first airplane in “airline spec.” FTV 1-3 aren’t, hence whatever suggested 1% issues.
Still looking for the link. It was an analyst’s article in February. No red flag was raised, and it said, as you noted, FTV 4 was/will be/is the benchmark with all production equipment, and it will verify performance as advertised.
I am assuming that FTV-4 will work on other flight tests after they confirm the GTF?
Frequent Traveller: One comment some time ago in the Globe and Mail here in Ontario suggested that the lack of reporting had liability issues. In that since the GTF is ordered/in initial production for several manufacturers tested quantitative details are considered privileged until released by all due to implications on sales. Have no idea if this is the case but makes a sort of sense.
According to the update given at the investers day, FTV4 is to test not only engine performance but also climb and cruise performance, field performance, landing gear and brakes.
Pictures of FTV4 show it in the same blue and white livery as FTV1, while FTV2 and FTV3 are still sporting the primer/unpainted finish.
It seems dubious that FTV5, with the fully appointed interior, will be available in time for Farnborough. Bombardier would look foolish to only display the same cabin mockup as in past years, while having multiple prototypes in the air. FTV1 or FTV4 should make an appearance and flight demos at Farnborough.
“Sales figures also support BBD: the CS300 has far outsold the A319neo and 737-7.”
I suppose true if you include the Republic, Odyssey, Ilyushin, etc., orders on the one hand, and on the other hand choose not to take into account the A319OEOs that have been ordered since CS300 launch nor the fact that NEO and MAX orders are easily swapped between models in their respective families as required.