The assembly of the first CSeries aircraft is well underway at Bombardier Inc.’s facility in Mirabel, Que. The new aircraft’s state-of-the-art design is on full display, demonstrating the aerodynamics of the plane from nose to tail, including the shape of its composite fuselage. Even its landing gear is there dangling from the plane.
But the most remarkable part of the new transcontinental aircraft is that it has been built entirely of plywood and pine.
Bombardier has been harnessing some of the most advanced simulation technologies available to help develop the CSeries, including the layout of its assembly plants.
The wooden aircraft perhaps best demonstrates the lengths the Montreal manufacturer is willing to go to ensure the new plane is delivered on time and on budget.
Simulations have done wonders in the CSeries’ design, and will play a major role in its certification process. For example, the company’s much-touted complete integrated aircraft systems test area [CIASTA] will allow the company to do a substantial portion of the aircraft’s flight testing virtually before the plane even takes to the sky.
Yet there are some things that simulations just can’t tell you, like whether a maintenance worker can easily fit the wrench he needs to use to adjust a bolt into a gearbox.
So Bombardier decided to build the wooden mockup in the same hanger it will assemble the first test aircraft.
And the company tasked 45 of its top engineers to find 1,000 design improvements on the aircraft before it goes into production. To date, they have identified a little over 600, the company says.
Delays and cost overruns at rivals Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS in recent years destroyed the credibility off all major aircraft manufacturers, including Bombardier. But Mike Arcamone, Bombardier’s recently appointed president of commercial aircraft, said the company is trying to make the CSeries program the benchmark for new aircraft programs industry-wide.
Part of that new sense of optimism stems from several milestones laid out by management, including having the final test rigs delivered by the end of month before the integrated testing of its various systems, including its fly-by wire, avionics, and hydraulics, begins July 10.
The remaining structural components are expected to be delivered by the end of August, and the first static structure is on track to be built for testing by the end of September.
Source: Financial Post