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Pilot’s view of the SWISS Bombardier CS100

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Bombardier CSeries – modern, ergonomic, efficient!

“Could we have a quick look at the cockpit? Wow – look at those huge screens!” and “What’s it like flying the new aircraft? It certainly looks neat and tidy!”

 These are the sort of things I’ve been hearing every day since I started the CSeries in daily line operations. I had the privilege of being one of the first First Officers in the world to have the pleasure of completing the exciting type rating on this brand new aircraft. With regard to the aircraft design, the manufacturer Bombardier approached the airlines at the outset and asked them what they would appreciate in a new development. The engineers then set about creating an entirely new kind of aircraft based on the ‘clean sheet’ concept. What makes flying and working in the cockpit so special? Where do I begin …

In the cockpit of the Bombardier CSeries – HUD and more

Presumably, the first thing a pilot notices when looking into the cockpit is the head-up display (HUD). As the name implies, it is intended to guide the pilot’s eyes upwards, and make it easier to scan the main flight parameters. To this end, most of the PFDs – Primary Flight Displays – are projected directly at eye level.

This means that in the short final, for instance, the pilot has the necessary parameters right in front of him as well as the runway, which eliminates the need to keep changing perspectives. This is particularly useful on challenging flights with poor visibility. The pilot also constantly has the critical speeds and runway in sight on take-off, so he is always looking at what matters.

Another details that should be mentioned at this point: the Control Tuning Panel, where we set the radio frequencies and transponder, and operate the navigation equipment, is now on the glareshield and thus also at eye level. So most of the movements that take place over the course of a flight do so with the pilot looking forward. So ergonomically, the CSeries is clearly far superior to many other aircraft.

The Surface Management System (SMS) and Electronic Checklist (ECL)

The five large displays also contribute greatly to the clear design of the cockpit. We are able to display navigation maps, the Flight Management System, the communications system, all the checklists, the various aircraft systems and the video monitoring on any display – just as the situation requires it. There are two particular functions that I would like to mention, the Surface Management System (SMS) and the Electronic Checklist (ECL).

On the SMS, the aircraft is projected on a moving map by GPS, which makes taxiing on complex airports very much easier – anyone who has ever taxied to a standstill on a foggy night in Paris will know exactly what I mean

The ECL has truly revolutionised checklist tasks in our cockpits. On the CSeries, the checklists are shown and worked through on the displays. If the system “senses” a switch in the intended position when checking a checklist, then that item is checked as green on the list and does not need to be addressed any further. This saves lots of talking, and offers an additional safety layer.

Eco-friendly thanks to the high bypass ratio

As I used to fly the Avro RJ100, and thus flew entirely without fly-by-wire, in the beginning I had a tremendous amount of respect for this new control technology. However, in my first simulator session I realised how very pleasant and direct it is.

The CSeries is controlled by sidestick, and is designed to be “speed stable”. So when I am flying manually, I trim it as I would a conventional aircraft. This makes it feel highly intuitive and direct – it didn’t take long to get used to the sidestick after the joystick, and now I never even notice that the inputs are being carried out by a fly-by-wire system.

The necessary thrust is provided by Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1524G engines with Geared Turbofan™ technology. What makes these engines so special compared with conventional ones is that a state-of-the-art gear system separates the engine fan from the low-pressure compressor and turbine, allowing each of the modules to operate at their optimum speeds. The engine is also notable for its tremendous bypass ratio of 12:1 (to compare: B737 & A320 ~6:1). This has greatly reduced consumption values, CO2 output and noise emissions. SWISS uses the highest-performing engines of this kind, which can generate up to 104 kN of thrust.

The CSeries is ideal for our network because it will shortly receive certification for “steep approaches” (approaches at a gliding angle of over 4.5°) and can land on very short runways. We will then be able to use it on very special airports such as London City and Florence, which are currently served by the Avro RJ100, and which is gradually leaving our fleet. I am already looking forward to the exciting operation at these airports!

The CSeries – not only popular with pilots!

The CSeries also offers a wealth of advantages for pilots. The cabin is extremely modern in appearance, and has been fitted with improved, wider seats. The windows are also a good 30% bigger, and provide a pleasantly light interior. Passenger comfort has also been increased by the innovative seats by ZIM, which are in a design that is used in the automotive industry. Thanks to a central support, they offer more legroom with the same seat pitch. Larger lockers and improved cabin ventilation complete the new travel experience for passengers.

Finally, the unmistakeably positive mood on the aircraft must also be mentioned. Whether you ask the passengers, crew or pilots, most will usually respond with a smile and confirmation that the CSeries really is a successful aircraft, and flying – or working – on one is simply tremendous fun. A lighter cabin with more space, modern design, a more ergonomic cockpit and many other factors really make it a great pleasure to be involved with a model that is a global innovation. I would be delighted to welcome readers on board.

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