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Bombardier CSeries flies for the first time

by Vinay Bhaskara

Earlier today at Montreal’s shuttered Mirabel Airport (YMX), Bombardier’s new CSeries jet flew for the first time today. The flight of CSeries flight test vehicle 1 (FTV1 – a CS100) was performed under perfect weather conditions in Montreal, and also represented the first flight for engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney’s new PurePower geared turbo fan (GTF) engine.

The flight lasted two and a half hours, taking of at 9:55 am local time and landing again at 12:25 pm. It ended more than two weeks of constant speculation over the date of the CSeries’ first flight as Bombardier battled unsuitable weather conditions in the Montreal area.

The flight was crewed by Captain Charles (Chuck) Ellis, Chief Flight Test Pilot, Bombardier Flight Test. He was joined by his colleagues, Capt. Andris (Andy) Litavniks and Andreas Hartono in the roles of First Officer and Flight Test Engineer respectively.

Captain Ellis had this to say about the first flight:

The performance of the CSeries aircraft was very impressive! We couldn’t have wished for a better maiden flight,….FTV1’s state-of-the-art flight deck was responsive and comfortable, and the aircraft handled exactly as expected. Overall, we had a very productive first flight and an excellent start to the flight test program.

During its first flight, the CSeries reached a height of 3,810 meters and an airspeed of 230 knots (426 km/hr). Several test were done in-flight including flap and landing gear retractions/extensions, in-flight maneuvers including a simulated landing, and validation of the flight control system.

Onlookers raved about how quiet the CSeries was on take off and landing, one of the benefits touted by Bombardier and Pratt & Whitney. A total of five CS100 test vehicles, in various stages of completion, will join the flight test program in coming months, and according to Bombardier, it will be months before acoustical testing is finished. The total flight test program is set to be around 2,400 hours.

The first flight is good news for the CSeries program, which has suffered under the weight of a long delay, rising costs (program cost is now projected at $4 billion, up from $3.5 billion), and strong competition from rival Embraer, whose E2 re-engine of its E-Jet family of aircraft has already won more than 100 orders after being offered for less than 3 months against 177 total orders for the CSeries after six years (63 CS100, 114 CS300).

The first flight of the CSeries and the Boeing 787-9 later this week will be the last major first flights for at least the next three years, until the A350-800, the 787-10, and the Embraer E2 all have their first flights in the 2016-2017 time frame.

The following video from Bombardier shows the take-off of the first flight.

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