Til
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:55 am

Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:36 pm

Hey everyone,
I'm new to this forum and I have a question that I hope somebody of you can answer...
I was wondering what is done in the first test flights in an aircrafts life. For example: when an A320 is built (it obviously has its certifications etc.) I heard that Airbus will do some test flights with their test crews before the airlines pilots get to fly the plane for an acceptance flight. Can some of you tell me how many flights are made, what is tested etc. because I am really interested in this process and could only find very little about it online.
Thanks for you answers in advance!
Greetings from Germany,
Til
 
mmo
Posts: 1076
Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:04 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:48 pm

Both Airbus and Boeing have an Acceptance Flight Checklist. This is, generally, accomplished by the crew (airline or contract) that is taking delivery of the aircraft. However, there are variations of this.
The airline will specify the test flight profile to be done prior to acceptance. For example, when NW took delivery of the 744 the test flights were done by Boeing but a NW pilot was on the flight deck. The delivery flight was actually flown by Boeing pilots out to international airspace, funds were transferred and I climbed in the seat and flew back. We advised ATC of a callsign change and other details and flew back. Some subsequent delivery flights were accomplished where we did the delivery checklist and the check was turned over upon completion.

If there are writeups on the acceptance flight, the issues are fixed and then ownership is transferred when everyone is satisfied the write up is fixed. I did a couple with Airbus at TLS and it's pretty much the same.

Of course, you are wined and dined during the time yoyu are with the manufacturer.
If we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane!
 
BravoOne
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:49 pm

Yes they do a flight to validate and test the airworthiness of the aircraft. Usually do an acceptance flight with the customer as well. Short local flights for the most part.
 
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seabosdca
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Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Thu Jul 06, 2017 5:10 pm

Not sure about Airbus. Boeing does one test flight with its own crews (the "B-1"), on which it tests a variety of aircraft systems. This is about a two-hour flight. There may be additional Boeing test flights if the B-1 reveals problems and Boeing wants to validate fixes before a customer flight. Usually a few days before delivery, there is then a customer acceptance flight (the "C-1") with customer crews aboard; what is tested on this flight varies by airline. As with the Boeing test flights, there may be additional customer test flights if the C-1 reveals issues.

With customer consent, Boeing also sometimes uses completed but not-yet-delivered aircraft for other Boeing purposes (such as testing and/or certifying running changes), particularly when the aircraft is complete well before the customer wants to take delivery.
 
BravoOne
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Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:29 pm

I have done customer acceptance flight on MD11 and 777's. Not much to it from a pilot perspective but there are usually a half dozen other folks from various departments within the company that validate the functionality of the aircraft systems such as SATCOM, ACARS, IFE, ETC as a lot of this is Buyer Furnished Equipment (BFE). Also have done several Boeing corporate conversion acceptance flights dating way back to the727-200. A lot different as each one is a one of kind example and not the cookie cutter airliners you would see off the Boeing production line. Never done an offshore acceptance but several PDX, Oregon deliveries to circumvent sales tax.
 
trav110
Posts: 552
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:08 am

mmo wrote:
flown by Boeing pilots out to international airspace, funds were transferred and I climbed in the seat and flew back


Sorry to go a bit off topic, but how does one actually pay for their new Boeing? Do they wire the amount or is it something that happens onboard?
 
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Starlionblue
Posts: 17830
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:26 am

trav110 wrote:
mmo wrote:
flown by Boeing pilots out to international airspace, funds were transferred and I climbed in the seat and flew back


Sorry to go a bit off topic, but how does one actually pay for their new Boeing? Do they wire the amount or is it something that happens onboard?


Bags of cash. :D

Jokes aside, typically the money is transferred, AKA wired.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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Grizzly410
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Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:20 pm

I can offer a bit of my knowledge about one Airbus A/C I know well ! Atlas.
When FAL process is finished the bird goes to the Product Acceptance team which run a series of tests form the PATM (Production Aircraft Test Manual) before handing over to the Delivery Center.
PATM starts on ground with Engine cranking, Engine Run, Taxi. Then go to flight mode with an RTO and one actual production flight, that could have to be repeated depending of first flight results.

More or less :
- you will start testing during CLIMB (basic system tests, NAV, COMM, etc).
- FL310 cruise performance and parameters (cabin pressure, noise, engine param) + APU start
- Redo it at FL350
- Descend to FL200 testing MMO/VMO, different control law, anti-ice, oxygen, fuel transfer and jettison, windmilling engine relight.
- Descend FL135 testing low speed conf and performance, LG ext/retraction, degraded hyd conf
- Descend FL050, specific cargo operation with ramp and paratrooper doors
- ILS approach, Go Around
- TACT MODE approach 2, GA
- RAT/Emergency elec, approach 3, landing.
In order to be old and wise, one must first be young and dumb.
 
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7BOEING7
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Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:04 pm

BravoOne wrote:
I have done customer acceptance flight on MD11 and 777's. Not much to it from a pilot perspective but there are usually a half dozen other folks from various departments within the company that validate the functionality of the aircraft systems such as SATCOM, ACARS, IFE, ETC as a lot of this is Buyer Furnished Equipment (BFE).


During a factory customer acceptance flight both the Boeing pilot and the customer pilot are fairly busy throughout most of the flight -- more so the Boeing pilot because he has to handle his checks and also explain to the customer pilot what he needs to do -- even more difficult when the customer pilot doesn't speak good english. Generally there are only 3 Boeing people onboard (pilot and systems operator in the cockpit and a flight analyst {maybe 2} in back).

The B-1 and C-1 are both 2-3 hours long. "seabosdca's" and "mmo's" comments are correct. "Grizzly410's" profile is similar to what would be done on a Boeing flight (minus the cargo stuff).

The flight engineer of the old days has become the systems operator/flight acceptance engineer of today. He sits between the two pilots, handles the paperwork and does many of the system checks.
 
BravoOne
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:32 pm

Well you were probably were around when DL was "concerned"about the noise levels on their 1st 737-800's? Not sure how that worked out but they obviously took delivery of the aircraft. The point being is that when the airliner is one of many that the mfg has in production, the chances for reruns diminishes significantly.

Corporate conversions on an existing airliner require much more detailed work regarding RVSM certification, cold soak flights and any number of avionics issue that someone like Boeing has down pat from the get go.
 
Alias1024
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:13 am

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:34 am

Starlionblue wrote:
trav110 wrote:
mmo wrote:
flown by Boeing pilots out to international airspace, funds were transferred and I climbed in the seat and flew back


Sorry to go a bit off topic, but how does one actually pay for their new Boeing? Do they wire the amount or is it something that happens onboard?


Bags of cash. :D

Jokes aside, typically the money is transferred, AKA wired.


I was really hoping the answer would be one of those oversized cardboard novelty checks.
It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.
 
Woodreau
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Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 6:44 am

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:14 am

Yes - you are wined and dined by the manufacturer. When we picked up a new aircraft we stayed in posh hotels (a ski resort - not the normal crew hotel) and meals and expenses were on Bombardier. But rest assured the manufacturer is not paying, the airline/leasing company/bank, etc. is paying as all of the wining and dining is a delivery charge that is a line item included in the purchase price of the aircraft. There is a set amount of money set aside and since its included you might as well spend every dime. Being frugal means the manufacturer gets to pocket the unused funds.

One of the things I found interesting about flying the aircraft before it goes on the line is that we had to do weight and balance the old fashioned way.
Weight x arm = moment. Then convert that to %cg MAC. Then look in the manufacturer supplied AFM to find the trim tab setting. The aircraft had not gone thru the airline weight and balance program to get a BOW and index to use the airlines FAA approved automated and manual w&b procedures to calculate takeoff speeds and trim settings.

Bombardier did supply an aircraft specific weight and balance sheet so that the only variables were where passengers (up to 19) were seated and any cargo/ballast loaded in the cargo bins.

After bombardier verified transfer of funds, Bombardier peeled off the Canadian registration revealing the US N-number underneath and then we had to wait for transport Canada approval for export. Once we had to delay departure from Mirabel because it was so late in the day that American CBP was not going to be open at DFW to import the aircraft at the planned arrival time... oh disappointment - another night in Saint Sauveur back at the ski lodge.
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
FlyHossD
Posts: 1438
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2009 3:45 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:01 am

There are some good comments here (above). I did 10 acceptance test flights for my former carrier.

The first one was the worst one as we discovered defects that took 4 days to repair or resolve. The second acceptance flight of aircraft #1 revealed only one more problem and that was fixed that day. Once we could find no more problems, the carrier wired the funds to the manufacturer.

Aircraft #2 needed two days for repairs after the first acceptance flight. Aircraft #3 needed only 1 day - can you see the trend?

The initial quality continued to improve and eventually, the carrier authorized me to not only do the flights, but to accept the plane on behalf of the company and to (therefore) authorize transfer of the funds (that was a somewhat creepy feeling, to be frank).

In any case, it was interesting flying and I enjoyed many fine meals on the manufacturer's dime while waiting on repairs on the first three. I was asked to do more, but declined as my duties (title) had changed by that time.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
Til
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2017 8:55 am

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:49 am

Grizzly410 wrote:
I can offer a bit of my knowledge about one Airbus A/C I know well ! Atlas.
When FAL process is finished the bird goes to the Product Acceptance team which run a series of tests form the PATM (Production Aircraft Test Manual) before handing over to the Delivery Center.
PATM starts on ground with Engine cranking, Engine Run, Taxi. Then go to flight mode with an RTO and one actual production flight, that could have to be repeated depending of first flight results.

More or less :
- you will start testing during CLIMB (basic system tests, NAV, COMM, etc).
- FL310 cruise performance and parameters (cabin pressure, noise, engine param) + APU start
- Redo it at FL350
- Descend to FL200 testing MMO/VMO, different control law, anti-ice, oxygen, fuel transfer and jettison, windmilling engine relight.
- Descend FL135 testing low speed conf and performance, LG ext/retraction, degraded hyd conf
- Descend FL050, specific cargo operation with ramp and paratrooper doors
- ILS approach, Go Around
- TACT MODE approach 2, GA
- RAT/Emergency elec, approach 3, landing.


Thank you very much for all your replies.
I actually was not talking about acceptance flights because here in Germany there are some good documentaries on youtube about this topic.
My question was more concerned about the PATM Flights in the answer Grizzly410 gave: so basically what goes on after the aircraft makes its actual first flight. As far as I'm concerned (in the case of Airbus) this is always done by Airbus pilots.
I have another question about the testing that is done on the first flights. Will a stall test be made with every aircraft or is it done only with the first aircraft that are only built for test purposes?
 
BravoOne
Posts: 2157
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:27 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:54 pm

One of the best ones for all you Alaska fans was buying a 727-200ADV from them. WE did the acceptance flight out of SEATAC and landed in PDX to handle the wire transfer for payment, This transaction was be handled directly by the President of Alaska and the company outside attorney. We went over to the then Sheraton Airport hotel, rented a room and called Chemical bank giving them them the oaky to release the funds, When Alaska got confirmation that the funds were in there bank he turned to the attorney a said "furlough fifty of those fu%$kers" Apparently there was some bad blood between the pilot group and the company in those days .

It actually got worse but that would be a thread drift for sure.
 
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7BOEING7
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:28 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:57 pm

Til wrote:
I have another question about the testing that is done on the first flights. Will a stall test be made with every aircraft or is it done only with the first aircraft that are only built for test purposes?


(Boeing) Stalls are only done on an appropriately instrumented test aircraft with very few exceptions.
 
jarheadk5
Posts: 248
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 2:45 pm

Re: Test flights before aircraft delivery to customer

Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:06 am

I used to work at Sikorsky in Coatesville, PA.

For the S-76D and S-92 helicopters:
The first 5 flight hours are flown by Sikorsky production test pilots, with the aircraft in the baseline "green" configuration. All aircraft systems are tested, rotor track & balance is done, and operational power checks are completed to verify performance.
Once the aircraft has 5.0 ACTT, it is inducted into the Completion Center for all customer modifications & paint, and all the airframe & dynamic component retorques are completed as well.
Once the completions work and paint is done, the aircraft get a new airworthiness certificate, generally the customer sends a pilot or two for customer acceptance flights/familiarization & training flights, and all the newly-installed customer equipment is tested with one Sikorsky pilot and one customer pilot aboard. If any of the initial retorques failed (not frequent, but not uncommon either), usually an additional 5 hours will be flown so the failed retorques can be reaccomplished.
While I worked there, if the customer intended to depart as soon as the money was transferred, they would be permitted to depart from our heliport. If they intended to delay their departure more than 1hr from when the money transferred, they had to relocate the aircraft to MQS.
-Boom stowed, leaving position.

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