Bombardier Aerospace (Montréal, Québec, Canada) celebrated the successful first flight of its CSeries aircraft on Sept. 16, a major milestone in the company’s highly anticipated development program that is expected to provide airline operators with an all-new composites-intensive aircraft family specifically designed for the 100- to 149-seat commercial passenger jet market segment. The maiden flight marks the start of the CSeries flight test program.
The historic flight of CSeries flight test vehicle one, a CS100 jetliner, departed from Montréal-Mirabel International Airport at 9:55 a.m. and returned at 12:25 p.m. EDT. “The performance of the CSeries aircraft was very impressive! We couldn’t have wished for a better maiden flight,” said test pilot Chuck Ellis.
“This is a very proud day for Bombardier and a true validation of the CSeries aircraft’s design and development, and of our extensive ground test program,” says Rob Dewar, VP and general manager, CSeries Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. He continues, “Five years in the making, the CSeries aircraft’s first flight is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work and dedication from our employees, partners and suppliers around the world.”
Four more CS100 flight test vehicles, currently in various stages of assembly, will join the flight test program.
GKN Aerospace (Redditch, Worcestershire, U.K.), which is under contract to Bombardier Aerospace, Belfast, to develop and supply critical structures on the advanced composite wings, offered its congratulations to Bombardier on the first flight. Bombardier’s Belfast unit is responsible for CSeries wing production; the wings are said to be among the largest and most complex composite aircraft structures ever manufactured and assembled in the U.K.
Specifically, GKN Aerospace developed, designed and now manufactures the all-composite aileron and winglet structures for both the CS100 and CS300 aircraft. The company’s engineering team has completed a three-year design and development program to create an innovative, one-piece aileron and winglet that minimizes structural weight and complexity while offering critical performance benefits to the airframe. A reportedly state-of-the-art manufacturing and assembly process also increases the speed of manufacture and reduces production costs.
Teijin Ltd.’s (Tokyo, Japan) carbon group, Toho Tenax, supplies carbon fiber for major primary and secondary composite structures on the program, including several carbon fiber types for both dry textiles and prepregs. Virtek Vision International Inc.’s (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) trademarked LaserEdge projection systems eliminate the need for physical templates by precisely projecting a template onto molds to guide operators through the wing’s complex ply layup process.
The next day, The Boeing Co.’s (Seattle, Wash.) 787-9 Dreamliner took to the skies for the first time, beginning a comprehensive flight test program that will culminate in certification and delivery, predicted for mid-2014. The newest member of the 787 family completed a 5-hour, 16-minute flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 11:02 a.m. local time and landing at 4:18 p.m. at Seattle’s Boeing Field. With a fuselage 20 ft/6m longer than the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 km). Boeing is on track to deliver the 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid-2014.
“Today’s first flight marks a significant milestone for our team, including our partners,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner. “We ... look forward to delivery of the first airplane to Air New Zealand next year.”
The first 787-9 will be joined in flight test by two additional planes. Those airplanes are in the final stages of assembly in Boeing’s Everett factory.
Over the coming months, the fleet will be subjected to a variety of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane’s design.
Twenty-five customers from around the world have ordered 388 787-9s, accounting for 40 percent of all 787 orders received to date.
Editor PickGardner Business Index at 54.1 in January
The US composites industry looks as strong as it has since early 2015, with expectations the highest in years.