The Bombardier Flight Test Center - Meeting the Challenge 2000-01-5502
In 1991, shortly after acquiring Learjet, Bombardier consolidated all flight testing of new aircraft at the Wichita, Kansas facility. Since then, nine new aircraft were certified, and the Flight Test Center grew from 20 dedicated flight test personnel, to nearly 500 dedicated flight test personnel. The Canadian based company in conjunction with several international risk sharing partners, has created a highly dynamic flight test environment, tasking the Flight Test Center with the challenge of bringing a new product to market each year. This rapid growth was centered on supporting three aircraft product lines; Learjet, Canadair, and DeHavilland. New hangars, telemetry, and ground support facilities were built to accommodate the increased flight test demands. The Bombardier Flight Test Center, otherwise known as BFTC, conducts flight test operations on a seven day per week schedule, and in 1999, flew over 5000 flight test hours in development and certification testing. In nine years, BFTC has become one of the world's largest and most active flight test centers. Harmonizing the highly diverse company cultures, and structuring the flight test organization to safely meet the aggressive development schedule driven by market demands, has presented unique challenges at all technical and managerial levels. Process improvement is an ongoing effort, whose goal is to achieve the completion of a certification flight test program within a twelve-month period of time. Data base systems to standardize engineering flight test requirements, and maintain configuration control have been implemented, and are being employed to improve efficiency, safety, and schedule completion milestones. Bombardier Aerospace is a world leader in the business and regional jet market, and the Flight Test Center continues to meet the challenges of testing aircraft safely and efficiently in a highly dynamic, schedule driven environment.