Behind-the-scenes: Aircraft Acceptance Process

QA personnel inspecting the aircraft.

QA personnel inspecting the aircraft.

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes before an aircraft joins our fleet? At PSA, we are on the path of accepting 54 brand new CRJ 900 NextGen airplanes from Bombardier. To date, PSA has successfully accepted 39 brand new CRJ 900’s.

Bombardier’s CRJ assembly line is based in Mirabel, Canada. In February, PSA welcomed its 100th Bombardier CRJ Series Jetliner operated for American Airlines. We celebrated by flying PSA staff to Mirabel Canada to tour the Bombardier factory and take the new jet home to Dayton, Ohio. View Video.

100

But what had to happen in the days leading up to the celebration? Each and every aircraft prior to delivery to PSA has to endure an acceptance process.

For every delivery, members of our Quality Assurance (QA) department must travel to Mirabel for several days to ensure the airplane meets our standards and is ready for delivery. PSA also sends a pilot that has been certified by Bombardier to test fly the aircraft. The team from PSA that is sent to review the airplane includes:

Steve Clark* – Chief Inspector
Jim Wolfe* – QA Specialist
Brad Salsbury – QA Specialist
Frank Bryan – QA Specialist
Chad Eshelman – QA Specialist
Randy Gossic – Line Captain
Danny McGahee – Line Captain

*Steve Clark and Jim Wolfe have been involved with the delivery of all 103 CRJ Aircraft we currently have in our fleet!

Several items must be inspected prior to delivery. All of the interior and the exterior of the aircraft is looked over in detail for any imperfections. Any imperfections on the aircraft will be fixed by Bombardier prior to aircraft delivery. The configuration of the aircraft must be checked to ensure it meets all of our requirements as customers. Every element in the cabin is inspected in detail to include the cabin configuration, every passenger seat, and tray table. The exterior of the aircraft is also looked over carefully. Even the smallest imperfection in the exterior paint will be repainted prior to delivery if necessary. Lastly, the QA Department also checks/logs all of the serial numbers on the equipment installed on the aircraft and checks to make sure the proper software has been installed.

Next, the CRJ 900 must be test flown. Randy Gossic and Danny McGahee are Captains at PSA that have been certified to conduct these test flights. Our PSA Captain is in the left seat flying the airplane while a Bombardier test pilot is in the right seat. The test flight consists of approximately a 2-hour flight where the aircraft undergoes several ground and flight tests. Each of the systems on the aircraft will undergo testing. The actual test flight includes testing of the flight controls, alternate gear extension, stall protection, and various Environmental Control System (ECS) tests. These ECS tests include dropping oxygen masks in the cabin and testing the leak rate of the cabin. All of the engine instruments and flight instruments are tested and compared. Lastly, an approach is flown and the Air Driven Generator (ADG) is deployed prior to landing.  Any issues potentially identified on the test flight will be immediately corrected by Bombardier.

Once all of the issues on the aircraft have been resolved, PSA can formally accept delivery of the aircraft. The aircraft is immediately flown to Dayton, Ohio where PSA Mechanics can then do the Entry into Service checks and the Gogo WIFI is installed. Once all of this is completed the aircraft can be put into service.

So the next time you are onboard one of our CRJ 900’s, you can rest assured you are flying in an aircraft that has met the highest quality standards as well as have a better appreciation for the journey that airplane has already taken.