Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's ahead for the 787 Program

Now that the first two 787s have flown what is up for the program. Besides getting the last four test airplanes up and flying, Boeing will, in the near term need to get the first two airplanes up more often. This is going to be paced by clearance of ZA002 landing gear and brake issues that cropped up on it's first flight on Dec. 22nd.

During the next couple of months Boeing will expand the test envelope of the aircraft and verify the flight control laws of the aircraft. This testing is not really part of the certification process though the FAA will undoubtedly be watching carefully. This first couple of months of testing is to prove out the airplanes at different flight regimes with varying weights on the airplane (ZA001 has water barrels installed in the main cabin where by water weight can simulate different passenger and cargo loads and as well as shifting the weight and centers of gravity by moving water between the different barrels) at different speeds and altitudes. Once this testing is done and the results are to Boeing's satisfaction then Boeing and the FAA will start the formal certification process.

According to an article by Guy Norris and Mike Mecham of Aviation Week, ZA001 will have it's second flight before the end of the month (quite possibly this week) after additional test equipment is installed. Inital airworthiness tests as well as tests on the stability and control systems and primary flight controls will be undertaken over the next 3 to 4 weeks followed by flutter testing and then moving on to higher speed envelope expansion testing around February.

Flightblogger: 787 first flight is just the start for gruelling programme

Testing Times Ahead (Guy Norris, Aviation Week)

Boeing Plans 8.5 Months of 787 Testing (Guy Norris and Mike Mecham, Aviation Week)

787 Flight Test Resume this Week (Guy Norris and Mike Mecham, Aviation Week)

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