The Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will fly later
this quarter has moved to the flight line. Fuel testing - the
first in the next phase of extensive checks the airplane must
undergo - is expected to begin very soon.
"We are making great progress, and
moving ever-closer to first flight," said Scott Fancher, vice president
and general manager of the 787 Dreamliner program.
recent weeks, the 787 (designated ZA001) completed a rigorous
series of tests including build verification tests, structures and
systems integration tests, landing gear swings and factory
gauntlet, which is the full simulation of the first flight using
the actual airplane.
With Chief Pilot Mike Carriker at the
controls, the simulation tested all flight controls, hardware and
software. The simulation also included manual and automatic
landings and an extensive suite of subsequent ground tests.
"These results give us confidence in our ability to move into
further gauntlet testing using either ground power or the
airplane's engines or auxiliary power unit. This is a significant
milestone on the path to first flight," Fancher said.
structural tests required on the static airframe prior to first
flight also are complete. The final test occurred April 21 when
the wing and trailing edges were subjected to their limit load -
the highest loads expected to be seen in service. The load is
about the same as the airplane experiencing 2.5 times the force of
"We continue to analyze the data, but
the initial results are positive," Fancher added.
On April 13, the leading edge
of the wing was subjected to its limit load while the rest of the
airplane was subjected to loads expected at cruise. And in
September 2008, the "high blow" high-pressure test was completed
on the static airframe. During that test, the airframe reached an
internal pressure of 150% of the maximum levels expected to
be seen in service - 14.9 lbs. per square inch (1.05 kilograms per
centimeter) gauge (psig).
Ground vibration testing, which
measures the airplane's response to flutter, also concluded on the
second flight-test airplane, designated ZA002, at the end of this
week. All the necessary structural tests required prior to first
flight now are complete.
Now on the flight line, ZA001 will
undergo additional airplane power and systems tests as well as
engine runs. After completing final systems checks and high-speed
taxi tests, the airplane will be ready for first flight, which is
on schedule for later this quarter.
The 787 Dreamliner currently has
orders for 886 airplanes from 57 customers.
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