Engine Failure Stops CSeries Testing

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Bombardier's CSeries test program has been temporarily halted after an uncontained engine failure in the first flight test aircraft during a ground test. The Transportation Safety Board said ground crew monitoring the aircraft declared an emergency and asked for airport firefighters. Bombardier wouldn't discuss details but said both the engine and the aircraft were damaged in the incident, which occurred at the company's production facility at Mirabel Airport near Montreal on Thursday. Pratt and Whitney, which makes the PurePower geared turbofan that powers the CSeries, is now working with Bombardier and Canadian authorities to figure out what happened. The problems occurred during what Bombardier described as "ground maintenance testing."

Bombardier has four test aircraft flying and is trying to certify the design for deliveries in 2015. It's not clear how long the fleet will be grounded. “As of now, the flight test program will only resume once the investigation is completed,” Bombardier spokesperson Marc Duchesne told the Toronto Star. The CSeries, which relies heavily on the new engine to deliver the fuel efficiency that is one of its main selling points has, like many other new designs, suffered delays and setbacks and is now more than a year behind schedule. Thursday's incident could have an impact on other new aircraft programs. Embraer's updated E190 Mitsubishi's new regional jet both use variations of the engine. Airbus's revamped A320NEO and the Irkut MS-21 offer it as an option. Bombardier is first to fly the engine.