MIAMI — Bombardier and Boeing announced first flight windows for each of their new planes within minutes of one another late Friday afternoon, setting up a first flight double header for early next week. Bombardier confirmed that their CSeries aircraft is currently scheduled for Monday morning the 16th, ending heavy speculation over the past week over when a bid for the skies would take place. Boeing meanwhile has set up to follow right on the CSeries’ heels after announcing plans to fly its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft as early as Tuesday the 17th.
Of course a bid to go airborne for either airplane remains dependent on additional testing to come and weather. Forecasts for both cities show acceptable weather on the target dates.
Bombardier has been especially conservative in “de-risking” the program’s first flight, hoping for a nearly unlimited ceiling and light winds. Seattle based Boeing has been a bit less conservative, showing a willingness to go for first flights in less than ideal conditions.
Coming a little over six months after roll-out in March 2013, the announcement from Bombardier ends rampant speculation over the past several days as a combination of continued testing programs and bad weather have delayed a hard date from being set in recent weeks.
A successful first flight of the CS100 would end also bring a welcome end to months of delays on the program. The first flight date has already been set back a handful of times through the summer with the last delay occurring in July. The first flight was originally set for late 2012.
So far only 177 of mid-sized airplanes have been sold since the program launched five years back (including the CS100 and larger CS300). A lot of hopes in Montreal hinge on a successful first flight and subsequent flight test program to convince potential buyers to come around. Bombardier currently expects said flight test program to last about one year. That timeline would place an expected entry into service into the late 3rd or 4th quarter 2014 at the earliest.
Boeing, for its part, is no doubt looking forward to the 787 program receiving some positive news. The new 787-9, a derivative of the at times troubled 787-8, offers improved efficiency due to its lower cost per mile and higher capacity over its smaller sibling. It also offers longer range.
Unlike the -8, however, the -9 has sailed through the build process in comparison, moving from final build to ready to fly in only several months as opposed to years.
Curiously the airplane has not started taxi testing yet, unlike the CSeries which has been traversing a runway outside Montreal for the better part of two weeks. Reports indicate that the runway at Boeing’s Paine Field—where the 787-9 is based—will be closed for construction over the weekend. This sets up Monday for a full day of taxi testing before a possible first flight the next morning.
In either case Airchive will be live from both Montreal and Seattle next week until both airplanes have taken to the sky. Make sure to follow us on twitter (@airchive) and via Facebook for the most up to date developments as this exciting week is set to soon be underway.