Here’s our update through last month on the three test programs we are following. Our charts are modified to display the data better.
The flight test program news this week is obviously oriented towards the CSeries mishap from last Thursday. P&W and Bombardier have offered little public information, while they conduct an investigation. P&W are confident of their engine architecture and said all indicators at this point are that this incident did not have anything to do with the Fan Drive Gear System.
Airbus and Boeing’s programs are continuing to build hours and reach their EIS as planned. Let’s take a look at each of these programs.
A30XWB continues its march to EIS. Today Airbus is conducting its first long haul test flight with crews and “passengers”. The excellent program execution continues to demonstrate Airbus’ lessons learned from A380 and A400M programs. We have seen that new designs bring with them lost of promise but also significant complexity that might not have been obvious at the start. Even as the A350-900 testing is doing well, and we anticipate the same for the A350-1000 to come, Airbus has yet to share much on the future of the A350-800.
787-9 is also continuing to achieve its goals on schedule. Boeing has been quiet about the program and we think this reflects growing confidence in the program – after all the 787 was just awarded 330 minute ETOPS. This should make launch customer Air New Zealand happy. The -9 continues to look like a much better airplane than the -8 in terms of economics. We think there may be more switches to the -9 from current -8 orders, as it goes into service.
CSeries ran into an “issue” last week. Up to then the program had been gathering pace. The fourth test vehicle was added last month. But with the engine failure, all flight tests are on hold. Other system tests continue. The engine failure is a problem that could lead to a delay – but based on what we’re hearing, P&W appears to have a handle on what happened. There is no official delay period being discussed. But it is important to note, the engine that failed was not a production model; P&W think they know what happened and should have a fix as quickly as they can. As stated in our previous post on the test event, this is not a show stopper. That said, another delay is not helpful to CSeries.