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Boeing 787 Testing Gets Into Full Swing

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

08 October 2010

The final 787 Dreamliner to join the Boeing flight test fleet made its first flight on October 4 from Paine Field in Everett, Washington state, the company announced, in what is a positive development for the Boeing team amid years of setbacks. The airplane, ZA006, is the second 787 equipped with General Electric Genx engines to fly.

Commenting following the successful one-hour flight, Scott Fancher, Vice President and General Manager of the 787 Program, said:

“It’s great to have our last flight test airplane join the fleet. We have been focused on completing the testing required for certification of the 787 with Rolls-Royce engines, because that is the first model we will deliver.”

“A great deal of the testing that we’ve done also applies to the 787s with GE engines and won’t need to be repeated."

Boeing's statement added: “There is, however, a smaller portion of testing that is unique to the engine/airframe combination. In general, this portion includes noise testing, extreme weather operations, function and reliability, and extended operations. In addition, testing to verify the airplane handles the same regardless of engine type and that the systems work on both models is required."

In addition to achieving first flight of ZA006, the Boeing test team has completed a number of flight test milestones in recent weeks.

Boeing wrapped up a series of natural and artificial icing tests, meeting all requirements with no changes required. Pilots reported that the airplane continues to handle well even in the presence of ice.

Flight loads survey testing, which demonstrates the pressure distribution on the airplane structure throughout the phases of flight in a variety of configurations, also has been completed. The Boeing team conducted this testing on ZA004 primarily at the airport at Victorville, California. Analysis of this testing continues.

A series of tests that place stress the airplane's brakes, called maximum brake energy testing, was completed in late September at Edwards Air Force Base, also in California. ZA001 conducted this testing as well as a series of extreme takeoff and landing conditions including minimum takeoff speed testing. Earlier in the month, ZA001 completed wet runway testing at Roswell, New Mexico.

ZA003 flew to Glasgow, Montana, to complete community noise testing. Boeing said that all results were within expectations.

As a result of these tests and others, all takeoff performance and handling characteristics testing is complete for the initial version of the 787. Additional testing will be required for 787s equipped with GE engines.

As of October 4, the 787 flight test program has logged more than 1,900 hours over 620 flights and completed more than 65% of the flight test conditions for 787s with Rolls-Royce engines.

In addition to testing in the air, the Boeing team has concluded much of the ground testing required to gain certification for a new aircraft. Boeing has completed well over 4,000 hours of ground testing on the same airplanes that are in the flight test program.

In addition, fatigue testing has started at a test rig in Everett, Washington. As of October 4, fifteen flights had been simulated. Federal regulations require Boeing to conduct twice as many flight cycles as any airplane in revenue service. Boeing plans to have completed 10,000 flight cycles prior to first delivery.

"We continue to be extremely satisfied with the performance of the 787 in its testing operations. This airplane handles wonderfully and will be a valuable tool for our customers,” Fancher said.

TAGS: aviation

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