Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2010 Contents W
hen the first Boeing 787
test aircraft, dubb ed
ZA001, did not return to
Boeing Field for two nights
from 19 February, aviation
blogs reacted like gossip
columnists on the scent of celebrity misbehaviour.
“ Where did ZA001 spend the weekend?” asked one,
wondering what could have kept the aircraft away from
home on its fifth day of flutter testing .
It turned out that the test aircraft had suffered an
uncommanded loss of thrust in one of its Rolls-Royce
Trent 1000 engines after a pressure-sensor problem.
The scheduled eight-hour test flight was curtailed for
investigation and an unplanned landing was made at
Grant County International Airport in Washington
The 787 returned to Seattle following replacement
of the part, and further flutter testing was, for the
moment, postponed – but not before the newspapers
and bloggers had done their work.
The incident arose as Boeing continue d preparations
to fly Trent 1000-powered 787 Numbers 4 and 3
(ZA004 and ZA003). By 22 February, second test
aircraft ZA002 had accumulated almost 50 hours’
testing in 18 flights and two days later ZA004
completed its maiden flight.
In Januar y, unveiling the US manufacturer ’s earning s
for the fourth quarter of 2009, Boeing President and
Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said that he
expected all six 787 test aircraft to have flown by the
end of June.
“ The production ramp-up is progressing as we
prepare to deliver [the] first 787 late this year, [and we]
expect production [to be] at 10 airplanes per month
by the end of 2013,” he said. Boeing anticipates some
787production at its new, second final-assembly line
in South Carolina starting next year, followed by some
deliveries from there in the first half of 2012.
When asked about future indications that the 787
program was back on schedule, McNerney said:
“Deliveries would be the number one thing to look at,
which would commence by the end of this year in our
Industry observers noted that February’s engine
problems showed that unforeseeable problems can
always arise in a test programme – especially with
an aircraft as ground-breaking as the 787. However,
barring serious issues, Boeing looks to be on target to
complete first delivery to launch customer All Nippon
Airways (ANA) this year.
Furthermore, with “block” improvements planned
to the aircraft’s weight, “the programme is on track” to
meet delivery specifications, McNerney said.
A month after the December 15 first flight of the 787,
Boeing announced completion of initial airworthiness
testing , enabling more flight-crew members and more
aircraft to join the flying programme. At that time,
Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice-president and 787
general manager Scott Fancher said the aircraft had
been performing “as expected” in about 60 hours and
15 test flights (plus one positioning flight), during
which an altitude of 30,000ft and a speed of Mach 0.65
had been reached.
Initial aerodynamic stalls and other manoeuvres
were carried out as part of initial airworthiness testing ,
with six different pilots having flown the 787. Coming
weeks will see the continued expansion of the flight
envelope to altitudes of more than 40,000ft and a speed
of Mach 0.85, while later tests will take the machine
beyond normally expected operational conditions.
During the likely nine-month certification
period, the manufacturer will generate some 4,000
“deliverable” test reports, analyses, and pilot “sign-
offs”, of which about 300 can only be demonstrated
through flight test (as opposed to compliance with
airworthiness regulations by analysis-plus flight-test).
As of early February, there were 11 aircraft - beyond
the six flight-test machines – undergoing completion
in Seattle. Boeing expects to have at least 30 airframes
in final assembly by the end of 2009, according to
marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth. ANA says it
will have received eight 787-8s by the end of March
Given that ANA and fellow Asian 787-3 launch
customer Japan Airlines ( JAL) have transferred their
orders for the high-density, short-range variant to
the long-range -8 model, the former design is seen as
having died at birth.
“I don’t think we’ve made a final decision, but I
would be hard pressed to tell you that it would be a
part of the [future] family,” Tinseth said at February ’s
Singapore air show. “ It was designed for the Japanese
market. It’s my guess that [it] won’t be part of our
[future] product offering .”
The 787-3 was designed to carr y up to 330 people on
routes of 3,000 nautical miles, compared with the 250-
seat, 8,200-nautical mile rang e of the long er-wing ed -8,
ZA004, the fourth flight-test 787 – and the third to fly –took off for the first time on 24 February.
Testing times for Boeing’s Dreamliner
With three Boeing 787s now flying, aerospace industry watchers are keeping a careful eye out for signs that
the programme is now proceeding according to its much-revised schedule, as Ian Goold reports.
Asia nAviation | MARCH 2010 29
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