Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2011. Contents Boeing again reschedules 'seven-late-seven'
Following November's Boeing 787 in-flight fire, emergency landing, and subsequent temporary grounding, Boeing has
developed a temporary modification for its six test aircraft, which now have resumed test flying. But the manufacturer
has also confirmed a seventh delay to the troubled programme, as Ian Goold reports.
Boeing restored its entire eet of 787
'Dreamliner' test aircra to ight status
in February with the return of airframe
ZA003 to the programme. e eet
had been grounded since November
a er an in- ight re aboard ZA002.
However, a shadow was cast over this good news as
the manufacturer announced its latest -- seventh -- delay
to the aircra 's delivery schedule as a result of the re.
By the time ight-testing restarted, the aircra had
completed more than 2,500 hours in the air, with an
estimated 300 hours still required to complete US
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certi cation.
e test eet now incorporates a "temporary x"
aimed at resolving the electrical problem that caused
the re and consequent emergency landing in Texas,
which led to all the aircra being grounded for six
weeks. Boeing is preparing a permanent modi cation
that will allow the resumption of extended-range twin-
engine operational performance standard (ETOPS)
ights over water.
"The FAA and [Boeing] have a common view
about what needs to be done," said Boeing Chief
Executive O cer Jim McNerney when reporting the
manufacturer's 2010 fourth-quarter results in January.
Beyond the six-strong test fleet, Boeing plans to
introduce two additional 787s to try to recover some
of the time lost in the development programme. ey
will principally perform long-range route-proving
ights, simulating airline ser vices and introducing
airport ground-handlers to 787 loading, maintenance,
refuelling , and ser vicing procedures.
Aircraft ZA005 has been carrying out high-
temperature and high-altitude performance tests,
ying to Aguadilla's Rafael Hernandez International
Airport (formerly Ramey Air Force Base) in Puerto
Rico in late January for operations from its 11,700
sea-level runway, the Caribbean's longest. From there,
it ew to El Alto in La Paz, Bolivia -- the world's highest
major commercial airport at 13,325 altitude -- before
making the rst visit by a 787 to Houston, home of
customer Continental Airlines, on its way back to
The manufacturer is now seeking some windy
weather in which to check the 787's crosswind air eld
performance. Boeing ew the aircra in strong winds
during tests in Iceland last year, but the highest
crosswind the aircra has yet encountered has been
"We haven't found the 'big wind' yet," said the
manufacturer's Chief Test Pilot Frank Santoni.
Speaking to the Royal Aeronautical Society in London
in February, he added: "We're looking for [a cross-wind
of ] something around 50 knots."
Santoni highlighted similarities between the 787
and its larger 777 predecessor, on whose y-by-wire
control laws the 787 system is based. "It's remarkable
how similar [they] are; we use the 777's laws, then add
features to make it more e cient and take weight out
of the aircra ."
He challenges 777 pilots to identify di erent ight
characteristics on the new aircra , claiming that 90
percent of normal procedures are the same.
e grounding of the test eet forced Boeing to
move its target date for certi cation -- including launch
customer All Nippon Air ways' (ANA) requirement
of ETOPS approval for long-range ser vices -- from
February to the third quarter of 2011. ETOPS
quali cation testing requirements have changed since
Boeing obtained such clearance for the 777 more than
15 years ago.
"It used to be cycle-based [but] now it is fault-
based, condition-based," said McNerney, adding that
Boeing has built extra time into the programme to
achieve approval. " e question is exactly what data is
applicable to each test point at the FAA. We've a little
wiggle-room... Could it be a couple of weeks less or a
couple of weeks more? at's all encompassed in the
margin as we go through this di erent ETOPS testing
The question mark arises from Boeing's need to
redesign power-distribution control so ware following
the in- ight re on ZA002. e re was sparked by a
All of Boeing s 787 test aircraft have
now been restored to flight status.
30 AsianAviation | MARCH 2011
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