Bombardier is still saying "in the coming weeks", but the CSeries first flight is looking closer now the first test aircraft, FTV1, has emerged from the paint shop at Mirabel (watch the video here
). Photos: Bombardier
The manufacturer says FTV1 has completed aircraft-in-the-loop ground simulation tests, thrust-reverser runs, full-power engine runs and begun low-speed taxi tests. The next step is high-speed taxi tests.
The question now is when can Bombardier certificate the initial CS100 version and begin deliveries. The company has gone from saying mid-2014 to saying it will give a date once the aircraft has flown.
In a recent analysts call, CEO Pierre Beaudoin repeatedly said the plan remains for a 12-month flight-test program, but cautioned it could take longer. Some analysts interpret that as meaning the CS100 will not enter service until early in 2015.
Twelve months does seem ambitious, given that many of the steps taken so far, from fabrication through assembly and integration to ground test, have taken longer than Bombardier planned. But it will have five test CS100s and all the time spent so far on the ground in integrating, upgrading and testing systems and software should pay off once flying begins.
Meanwhile, the production line is beginning to roll, with the center fuselage for the first production CSeries (pictured below) having been completed at Bombardier's Belfast, Northern Ireland, plant and readied for shipping by sea to the Canadian final-assembly line.