Boeing Has Another Full Week Of 787 Tests

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By Michael Mecham

Counting down Boeing’s long task lists leads to June 28 being a likely target for the first flight of ZA001, the first flight test article in the 787 program.

Boeing will run through a series of six major ground tests from Friday through Sunday, June 21. They are broken into blocks of three. The first covers cover primary flight control system “axis” testing, which is to finish Saturday. The other focuses on functionality check out tests of the flight control management system and should wrap up by Sunday afternoon.

The six tests were originally set to be completed by Saturday evening, a clear indication of how volatile the schedule is as Boeing pushes to get ZA001 into the air by the end of June.

VP Pat Shanahan, the general manager of Boeing’s commercial airplane programs, is set to hold a flight readiness review in Everett, Wash., on Saturday.

With that review done and the last of the ground test blocks completed, the airplane will enter the last major phase of its testing — final gauntlet.

That 48-hour procedure will push ZA001 through a continuous series of final system checkouts using a software load developed to address minor issues that arose during the first two test phases — factory and intermediate gauntlet.

It is expected to get under way June 22 and most likely will be followed by a two-day analysis session.

When flight managers are satisfied with that analysis, ZA001 will be ready to roll under the power of its Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines for the first time. It does so in low- and high-speed taxi tests. The first are cautious approaches to the fact that the nearly 400,000 lb. aircraft is moving under its own power.

The second will bring it to Vr — rotation speed — in which the nose wheel lifts off the runway slightly but the main landing gears stay put. Those tests, all conducted at Paine Field near the Everett factory, should only take one day.

Most likely Boeing will then take a full day for final preparation work before proceeding to the first flight. Following this tentative schedule, that will put first flight on Sunday, June 28. But, as with so much in the program, the schedule could slip.

The first flight is slated for 5.5 hours, but indications are it could go longer. The airplane will land at Boeing Field in Seattle, from which the full flight test program will be conducted.

Photo: Boeing

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