Exclusive: Airbus Working On More Than One New A220 Models
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2:30AM (07:30 UTC) - January 13, 2020 - by Sylvain Faust for fliegerfaust.com
- Airbus working on new A220 Models, not just one.
- A220 certification team planning a return to Mirabel from Wichita
Once again, what I heard lately through the grapevine about Airbus and Bombardier is highly interesting.
For a start, have you ever heard about the Bombardier HPC?
If not, ladies and gentlemen, --as we are about to undertake our exciting tour through the Bombardier High Performance Computer (HPC) and learn how it relates to the future (and the past!) of the Airbus A220--, please make sure your seatback and tray table are locked in their full upright position, your seat belt securely fastened, and that you have your fresh cup of coffee with you, or whatever else that pleases you.
The Bombardier HPC, you see, basically amounts to a cluster of computers used for flight simulation of aircraft designs. These precise number-crunching engines process sophisticated yet CPU intensive mathematical formulas, allowing for the simulation, to the finest detail in flight, of Bombardier designed aircraft.
This way, all phases of flight can be precisely enacted for machines that only exist on the drawing board or in the mind of creative engineers.
The HPC does integrate all the different parts of the aircraft design to get to a perfectly accurate, lifelike, simulation of how the aircraft would react if it were built precisely to the specs provided for the proposed design.
And, should you be tempted to ask, what was the HPC used for at Bombardier (aerospace group) in relation to the A220/CSeries ?
As you might already have surmised, it was used for the testing/simulation of the CSeries design well before the aircraft was ever made. It allowed Bombardier engineers to achieve a perfectly fine-tuned design even before building their very first aircraft. The essential point being that after such simulation runs, engineers can make changes, corrections and tweaks to further gauge their impact on the aircraft at different phases of flight, again and again, simply by feeding the data back into the HPC and having more computations/simulations done.
You might not know it but the "base" design model of the CSeries is in fact the longer CS300 now renamed A220-300 by Airbus. As it is, the shorter CSeries, CS100 (A220-100) is just another "shorter" version derived from the base design after the fact. What does this mean? It means that the A220 as you know it today has not been stretched or elongated yet.
Aircraft usually have multiple extended versions made/engineered from it base design. The Bombardier CRJ (initial work under Canadair) for example, from the CRJ-100 it has been modified up to the CRJ-1000 much longer aircraft. And in fact, the CRJ-100 itself was a modified design of the Canadair Challenger business jet who had its maiden flight on November 8, 1978. Canadair was acquired by Bombardier in 1986.
Aerospace companies can do lots of "air miles" with many variations of an original aircraft. The Boeing 737 is another example, since the late 60's Boeing kept changing its design, making it even bigger, more modern, with better range and with better fuel consumption without ever having to redesign a totally new aircraft from scratch. It also allows their clients (airlines) to simplify their pilot training, to save them money.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, as Geoffrey Chaucer wrote. That was centuries before electricity was invented, mind you, and long before the first aircraft ever flew, but then, I have to admit, he was perfectly right!
Sometimes the manufacturer comes to a point where implementing changes or new technologies to an already very old, --or not so old, yet badly designed--, aircraft is just impossible without much complications and dire consequences. Remember the 737 MAX 8?
When modifying an existing aircraft design the manufacturer can save money and bring to market a new/different aircraft much faster and at a much lower cost when compared to designing and making a totally new aircraft design from scratch, like Bombardier did with the CSeries. The engineering work to design and built the new CSeries took many years and billions of dollars.
Modifying an existing aircraft also allows the use of much of the same certifications (Transport Canada, FAA, EASA…) since only aspects impacting the original specifications now need to be recertified.
You might remember that Bombardier decided to build the CS100 before the CS300? The certification of the CS100 (A220-100) required 5 aircraft to be built just for its certification. When Bombardier built the CS300 (A220-300) only 2 aircraft were needed to be built for the certification purpose since over 95% of it is the same as the CS100. The CS100 aircraft used for testing were serial number 50001 to 50005, they were called FTV1, FTV2, FTV3, FTV4 and FTV5. FTV stands for "Flight Test Vehicle". Also a set of wings needed to be built just for testing its structure under huge stress and more. Expensive it was. As for the CS300, the aircraft built for certification were FTV7 and FTV8, only two were required, serial number 55001 and 55002. (50xxx series are CS100/A220-100 and 55xxx series are CS300/A220-300)
But let's get back to the Bombardier High Performance Computer (HPC) ...
Until recently, the HPC was used by Bombardier by the engineering team working on the Global 7500 and 8500. But this is no longer the case.
What happened? Airbus recently asked Bombardier to reactivate the CSeries (A220) data into the HPC.
Why, you asked?
First, it was to reiterate the flight computations needed for a longer new A220, the A220-500 (aka CSeries CS500). Bombardier already designed the CS500 years ago when they came up with the CS300 and CS100. The CS500 has been "flying" in the HPC years ago already, all tested. After having the base model, the CS300 done, they did a compressed/smaller version, the CS100, and a longer version, the CS500. The CS500 was never actually produced. Some airlines said that if the CS500 (A220-500) was available they would be ordering some. Airlines such as Air France/KLM and Korean Air did publicly say so.
Why then would Airbus ask for the restart of the CS500 simulations? To prepare for its production and to get its latest performance numbers up to date so it can be officially offered to potential buyers, if you asked me. The CS500 is rather simple to build for Airbus since it would be using the same CS300 wing, cockpit, tail, landing gears, systems, etc. engineers close to the program explained to me. A longer fuselage part/barrel would be required and attached during the assembly process. Maybe the vertical fin might even get smaller having a longer fuselage? The already announced extended range for the A220 will be interesting for the A220-500.
But there is more to what I heard.
Airbus would have asked Bombardier to use the HPC for something Bombardier did not do themselves. What? To run the flight simulations for much longer A220 models, the A220-700, A220-900 and A220-1000. That is new!
Airbus is evaluating the extension possibility of the A220, its behavior and performances using also new "real life" numbers from the airlines operating the A220.
But there is more.
What else would be required to permit the production of the A220-500 by Airbus? Certification!
Yes, still, like when Bombardier needed to have the CS300 certified, a new A220-500 would also need certification to some degree. It would be light, quick and easy, requiring maybe one or two aircraft as with the CS300. But, where am I going with this?
Let's talk about BFTC (Bombardier Flight Test Centre).
In case you didn't know, BFTC is the group at Bombardier that takes care of the flight testing and undertakes all of the necessary work with the certification agencies to get any new or modified Bombardier aircraft officially certified. As it is, Bombardier has many aircraft models and variants, each needing proper flight testing and certification.
Hence, the flight testing and certification of the CSeries was done by the BFTC unit directly located at Mirabel Airport where the CSeries assembly is also being performed. In 2014, Bombardier began to shift the CSeries certification work (and BFTC team) to its facilities in Wichita, Kansas. The remainder of the CSeries BFTC group was moved from Mirabel to Wichita in 2016. Today, still all the A220 testing and further certifications are being managed and done over there. I wish to take this opportunity to say hello to all my Wichita friends and also their buddies who left to work for Mitsubishi...
One more thing you will learn first only on fliegerfaust.com, there is an ongoing planning for the A220 BFTC group to be coming back to Mirabel. Could there be a new A220 model requiring nearby certification specialists, --near to Mirabel where Airbus is located, for that matter? Could it be because a new A220-500 is to be certified soon? These are most interesting questions, aren't they!
Obviously for Airbus, having the A220 flight test center on site at the Mirabel original Airbus A220 production facility makes sense, allowing Airbus to be close to the action for the testing and certification of new A220 models.
Finally, is the transaction between Bombardier, the government of Quebec and Airbus, about half of the CSeries, going to produce the higher long term results promised quite earlier than expected?
Remember what I wrote few days ago about Airbus going to build two new factories in North America? . Remember I said a new A350 factory could be coming to either Mobile, Alabama or Mirabel, Quebec. Sources in the US told me that Airbus will not install a A350 factory in the US. Do you now understand what this would mean? If not, read the article…
Do you know about the Air Show coming to Mirabel? Read about it here...
Sylvain Faust for fliegerfaust.com
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