Boeing Restarts 787 Pre-Flight Tests

Jan 28, 2009
By Guy Norris

After a break of several months, flight test engineers plan to re-activate systems on the prototype Boeing 787 over the next few days.

Initial test work on ZA001, now housed in Building 40-24 at the company’s sprawling Everett, Wash., complex, focused on verification tests of the aircraft’s Ethernet links.

The work marks the start of what Boeing hopes will be the run-up to first flight tentatively set for sometime in the second quarter of 2009. The aircraft was originally set to fly in late August 2007 but has been pushed back several times by supplier issues, traveled work, fastener shortages and replacement, systems delays and last year’s machinists’ strike.

While structural and pre-flight systems check-out progresses on ZA001 and sister aircraft ZA002-004, the tempo of work is increasing in the building housing the integrated test vehicle (ITV) and engineering cabs.

Upcoming work scheduled for the facility, dubbed ‘ZA Zero’, includes verification of equipment in simulated first flight test ‘blocks.’ The upcoming series of block tests include newly updated software in the GE Aerospace-developed common core system, and at least three simulated ‘flights’ of the aircraft’s complex electrical system.

Boeing is expected to provide its first official update of the year on the 787 today as part of its 2008 earnings report and 2009 forecast.

Photo: Darren Shannon

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