The Bombardier CS300, the newest commercial aircraft on the market, made its maiden flight just after 11:00 a.m. yesterday at Montreal’s Mirabel airport. The larger CSeries variant follows the smaller CS100, which took to the skies 17 months ago.
For Bombardier, this is a significant step forward for a project which has seen its share of challenges. As a “clean-sheet” aircraft design, such challenges are not unexpected; Boeing and Airbus experienced similar delays with the 787 and A350, respectively. Bombardier’s new CEO, Alain M. Bellemare, described the event as “an inflection point” in the CSeries project, “where we’re finally reaching momentum and we can go to market with a solid product for our customers.”
The test flight came on the second day of the three-day window Bombardier allotted for the event. Initial plans to run the test flight on Thursday were hampered by cold weather, wind, and snow earlier in the week in Mirabel; that weather prevented final pre-flight testing from happening. It was colder yesterday than earlier in the week – probably the coldest first flight ever – but the low temperatures did not prevent the first flight.
With both the CS100 and CS300 now flying, the company is able to aggressively push towards the completion of the flight test regimen and enter the airliner into service. It is also worth noting that the CSeries plan is somewhat unusual in having both types flying test flights concurrently rather than a sequential process of EIS on the first followed by testing of the second. Delays in the CS100 test program can be blamed in part for these circumstances.
The CSeries aircraft promises a more comfortable passenger cabin combined with lower costs for the airlines and quieter operations for the passengers and those who live near the airports. While the interior of the CS300 is not yet on display to media, the noise aspect was demonstrated during the first flight departure; the CRJ900 – a quiet plane in its own right – was notably louder than the CS300 flying just ahead of it during the first flight departure.
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