Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Future of Flight photos of Dreamliner 2 over Cascade Mountains

Dreamliner 2 over Cascade Mountains

Thanks to the Future of Flight

The Future of Flight has these beautiful pictures of Dreamliner 2 in flight over the Cascade Mountains. Very stunning!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

ZA001 moving into regular flight tests

Now that the pressure of getting off the ground is past, Boeing is starting to get into the rhythm of regular test flights. Yesterday (Dec. 27th) ZA001 conducted a 2 hour flight over eastern Washington State and today it is conducting a third flight over Washington and Idaho states and that has lasted almost 6 hours, the longest flight thus far for the 787

No word on when ZA002 will resume its flight tests but it seems like the gear issues on it's first flight are a one off event that has occured on that airplane.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

787 orders picking up?

This morning, Boeing revealed an order for 11 787s from an unidentified customer on its Order and Delivery page. The type won't be known until early next month.

There are two reasons that would lead to a return airlines to ordering the 787. 1st flight and the start of testing and certification activities and strengthening of the worldwide economies allowing airlines to increase capacity or replace older fleet models. It would also represent a reversal from the past year's trend of airlines cancelling or deferring 787 orders.

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)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Belated 787 Round Up

Boy I did pick a helluva day to come back and start posting.

First to start the day Boeing decided to buy out Alenia North America's share of Global Aeronautica thereby bringing the entire North Charleston facility into Boeing complete control. It is important to note that Alenia, the Japanese heavies, and Spirit still have responsibility in manufacturing their respective segments but the integration of section manufactured in Italy and Japan will be wholly done by Boeing. Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Acquires Alenia North America's Interest in Global Aeronautica

SEATTLE, Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) said today it has acquired Alenia North America's half of Global Aeronautica, LLC, a South Carolina fuselage subassembly facility for Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, and is now the sole owner of that entity. Alenia North America is a subsidiary of Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company.

Operationally, Boeing will integrate the Global Aeronautica facility with the rest of Boeing's organization in North Charleston, S.C.

"The Boeing Charleston site is critical to the success of the 787 program," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Through this acquisition, Boeing benefits by joining together two solid operations - including their talented employees and state-of-the-art facilities - into one Boeing team. Ultimately, we believe integration of the site will increase productivity for the 787 program and allow us to maintain our long-term competitiveness."

"We are proud of the major contribution we have made over the past four years through our partnership in Global Aeronautica to the 787 program and to the state of South Carolina," said Giuseppe Giordo, president and CEO of Alenia North America. "We are confident that the foundation we have developed will continue to flourish as it is integrated into Boeing Charleston." The acquisition was effected through a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing; other terms were not disclosed.

"We look forward to integrating the employees of both operations into one team in
North Charleston, along with continuing our partnership with Alenia on the 787 program," said Albaugh.

Global Aeronautica, LLC, began in 2004 when Alenia North America and Vought Aircraft Industries formed a 50/50 joint venture in support of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. In 2008, Boeing purchased Vought's interest in Global Aeronautica, making the company a 50/50 joint venture between Alenia North America and Boeing.

Global Aeronautica's integration entails the joining of the mid-fuselage sections, the installation and testing of associated elements, and the application of surface finishes to more than 60 percent of the 787's fuselage. Global Aeronautica sits adjacent to the Boeing Charleston site and shares a 240-acre (97-hectare) campus.

So does this come as a surprise? Frankly no in my opinion. The Global Aeronautica production was key to getting the supply chain up and running smoothly. There are still issues with travelled work coming form Global Aeronautica so if Boeing hopes to ramp up to 10 or more per month then they have to fix the issues at GA.

Now the other big story is that ZA002 the second 787 made its first flight today as I had posted earlier, this airplane was expected to make it's first flight prior to Christmas and it has. This flight was cut short (it was in the air for about 2 hours) due to issues with the main landing gear doors, the nose gear and one of the two T-33 chase planes having run low of fuel.

Here's Boeing's statement of Dreamliner 2 taking to the air:

Second Boeing 787 Dreamliner Completes First Flight

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The second Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner, ZA002, completed its first flight today. The all-new airplane, which features the livery of the Dreamliner's launch customer, ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan, took off from Paine Field in Everett, completed a two-hour flight and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle.

"We are delighted that the second Dreamliner is in the livery of our launch customer, ANA," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "We are honored by the airline's support and look forward to delivering ANA the first production airplane next year."

Captain Randy Neville was at the controls for the flight, with Chief Pilot Mike Carriker operating as co-pilot. Neville and Carriker took the airplane to an altitude of 13,000 feet (3,962 m) and an airspeed of 200 knots, or about 230 miles (370 km) per hour. The airplane took off at 9:09 a.m. PST and landed at 11:10 a.m. PST.

This is the second of six 787s being used in the airplane's flight-test program. Each of the airplanes will be used for a specific set of tests, with this airplane focusing on systems performance. Like its predecessor, ZA001, the airplane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

"We would like to convey our sincere congratulations to the Boeing team for its achievement of this milestone, and we look forward to the delivery into our fleet next year," said Shinichiro Ito, president and CEO of ANA.

Boeing Press Release makes no mention of any in flight anomalies

Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times reports the gear door problem as well as issues with the nose gears that were eventually resolved. Dreamliner 2 apparently landed with the landing gear doors down instead of the up or stowed position. Here's Dominic's story:

First Flight of Glitches for Dreamliner 2

Flightblogger also weighed in with information on the Dreamliner 2's first flight and gave some clarity to the situation but all in all the issues that this airplane faced are minor and will be corrected and tested before the airplane goes up again.

Flightblogger: Explanation and Clarification of ZA002's Landing Gear

Guy Norris also had posted on the Things With Wings blog more details on the systems experienced issues on ZA002 during yesterday's flight.

First Flight Problems for 787 Show Up on ZA002

Lastly, here are some great videos. The first on is ZA002's take off as filmed by Matt Cawby (Thanks to Matt on the video)

The second video is landing of ZA002 at Boeing Field. Notice the gear doors in the open position as the aircraft is landing.

Here's a second view of ZA002's first flight from the Future of FLight

I'm Baaack!!

Ok well some of you are wondering where I've been for the last one week. After the 787 first flight I may dropped of the edge of the world but no such luck. I was in India for a family wedding but now I'm back. I'm planning a posting reviewing the 787 first flight as well as the first flight for ZA002 which is supposed to happen later today according to Flightblogger.

ZA002 to fly December 22nd, weather permitting

At the moment I'm still stuck in transit waiting for my return flight to NY which is already delayed 3 hours! In the meantime, do enjoy these pics that I took of my ride from Brussels to Mumbai, India. It's a Jet Airways 777-300ER (registration VT-JEH). Have fun and I hope to have an update up in the next coupld of days.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Video of 787 take off

Special Thanks to Dave Parker Brown of Airline Reporter for allowing me to embed his video of today's dramatic takeoff!!!

Thanks ro Bert Chiu for the following video:

787 is in the air!

After almost two and half years of delays, ZA001, the first 787 is in the air!

Here's a special article from

Boeing 787 Takes to The Air

Aviation Week's Article

Getting Started

ZA001 on RWY 34L and holding

ZA001 holding short of RWY 34

She's taxiing to the runway!

Just a few minutes from the start of taxiing to Tunway 34/16 at Everett.

Boeing's Webcast is up and running! Boeing Webcast

Guy Norris says there is a bit of optimism that the flight will go at the planned time.

787 First Flight: Optimism

9:40 AM - 30 minutes till first flight

The pilots are strapped in the engines are on as are the anti-collision strobes on the airplane! Pray for good weather.

Guy Norris' Report from Paine Field

Weather is looking dismal according to Guy Norris:

787 First Flight: The Rain In Paine....

Boeing files 787 flight plan

BOE1/B788 has just filed a flight plan. It is scheduled to depart from KPAE
(Snohomish County) at 10:00 PST heading for KBFI (Boeing Field Intl) for an
estimated arrival at 15:30 PST.

Expected route: PAE360019 MLP340019 PAE360019 MLP340019 GLASR GLASR7

For more information visit

FlightAware Flight Plan ( -- Save time &
money with FlightAware's free flight planner.

To edit or disable these alerts please visit

Monday, December 14, 2009

End of the long road for the 787

Tomorrow, weather permitting, the 787 will end an a very long and painful road to first flight. I'll try to keep tabs tomorrow on progress of the weather as it relates to first flight.

Boeing will stream the 787 first flight live on it's web site as well as the web site. But in the meantime, Randy Tinseth, speaking for Boeing on his blog says:

Let's Go!

Great sentiment that is obviously shared! In the meantime Flightblogger has put up a new post describing, in excellent detail, the taxi tests that occurred on Saturday as well as the progress to date as well as a second post describing the test flight regime that ZA001 will be undertaking over the next few months. ZA001 apparently has been fueled for it's first flight.

Read Flightblogger's reports:

Better Know a Dreamliner - Part One - ZA001

ZA001 stretches its legs

Additionally, ZA002 (Dreamliner 2) is progressing towards it's first flight with gear swing tests.

Liz Matzelle captured some great video of this gear swing test:

ZA002 Gear Swing Tests from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

Dreamliner 9 is heading to the paint shop at Everett. LN 10 through LN 13, as far as I know, are still in building 40-26 going through final assembly. ZA003 is also going through preps and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this airplane flying next month.

Finally, Aviation Week has a whole section devoted to the 787 first flight as well as featured blog post from Guy Norris and Mike Mecham.

Aviation Week's Boeing 787 First Flight Special Report

787 Countdown to first flight (resumed) Part 7

It's official: 787's First Flight is Tuesday

Boeing Sets Long-Awaited 787 First Flight

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ten Day Forecast for Everett, Wa and the 787 First Flight.

Can the first flight of hte 787 be delayed by a week because of weather. It is possible according to the long range weather forecast that I found on

Tonight Dec 13 Rain / Snow 31° 30 %
Mon Dec 14 PM Rain / Snow Showers 40°/35° 50 %
Tue Dec 15 Rain 43°/42° 70 %
Wed Dec 16 Rain 48°/44° 80 %
Thu Dec 17 Few Showers 47°/43° 30 %
Fri Dec 18 Cloudy 48°/43° 20 %
Sat Dec 19 Few Showers 48°/41° 30 %
Sun Dec 20 Showers 47°/40° 40 %
Mon Dec 21 Showers 43°/35° 60 %
Tue Dec 22 Mostly Sunny 40°/32° 20 %

As you can see, the weather is nothing short of awful for the next niine days except on Dec. 22 Everett may finally have sun shine. Hopefully it won't take 10 days to have good weather for first flight but it's out of everyone's hands now. Boeign did everything to get this plane ready for first flight. They and everyone else will have to pray to the weather gods.

Boeing receives FAA Experimental Certificate

Boeing has FAA clearance to start test flight on the 787 after they received the FAA's Experimental Certificate allowing them to operate the aircraft as an experimental aircraft only (as opposed to the FAA certification that is required for regular passenger service). All last remaining hurdles for first flight have been cleared with only the weather standing in the way. As of Dec. 13th the forecast for Tuesday Dec. 15th at Everett is 80% chance of showers with temps 45H/43L. Not exactly the conditions Boeing wants to go flying in.

As an aside, Flightblogger got a huge amount of photos from yesterday's taxi tests along with video from Liz Matzelle.

Take a look, it's worth it!

Flightblogger: 138 Photos and 2 Videos of Note: 787's busy day on the ground

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boeing Issues Press Release about 787 Taxi Tests

Boeing Image
This just out from Boeing a moment ago:

News Release Issued: December 12, 2009 9:16 PM EST

Boeing Completes 787 Dreamliner High-Speed Taxi Test

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) completed high-speed taxi tests on the first 787 Dreamliner today. This is the last in a series of functional tests planned in preparation for first flight.

"Our pilots told me the airplane performed beautifully," said Mike Delaney, vice president and chief project engineer for the 787. "We're going through and analyzing the data to ensure we're ready for first flight. From evaluations we've done so far, everything looks good."

During the testing, the airplane reached a top speed of approximately 130 knots (150 mph, 240 kph), and the pilots lifted the nose gear from the pavement. Video highlights of the taxi testing will be available by the end of the day Monday at and

Taxi test is the last testing planned before first flight.

So now Boeing has completed all testing prior to first flight and have offically set Tuesday, Dec. 15th at 10AM for first flight. My guess that Boeing will get final approval from the FAA after meeting with them and then they go fly. Till then they'll probably be going over the data gather from today's tests. Only the weather is the concern for first flight. Checking the forecast are as follows:

Sunday, Dec. 13 - Mostly Cloudy, 34H/30L, 20% chance of precip
Monday, Dec. 14 - Few Snow Showers, 37H/32L, 30% chance of precip
Tuesday, Dec. 15 - Showers, 43H/42L, 40% chance of precip
Wednesday, Dec. 16 - Rain, 50H/47L, 70% chance of precip
Thursday, Dec. 17 - Light Rain, 51H/51L, 70% chance of precip
Friday, Dec. 18 - Showers, 52H/44L, 40% chance of precip
Saturday, Dec. 19 - Few Showers, 46H/43L, 30% chance of precip

Another incredible video from Matt Cawby

This is a great video of the 787 during the taxi tests today. This one not only shows the 787 rotating off it's nose wheel but you can hear the engines spooling up as well as see the 787 really up close. Bravo to Matt for getting this video!

Video by Matt Cawby of Skyline Photography

This video is as close to what we'll see for first flight until first flight happens.

Airline Reporter's Video of the 787 almost lifting off!

Dave Brown of Airline Reporter, got an amazing video of the 787 with its nose sheel lifting off for a few seconds. This bird is aching to get off the ground. Special Thanks to David Parker Brown for allowing me to link to his video.
Watch it here:

Or go to his web site, it's terrific:

Airline Reporter

Matt Cawby's Videos of today's 787 taxi tests

Matt Cawby put up a few great videos of today's taxi test.
Thanks to Matt Cawby and Skyline Photography

787 starts taxi tests

UPDATE (5:00PM Eastern Time): Flightblogger reports that today's taxi tests have wrapped up.

UPDATE: During one test the 787's nose wheel left the ground. Getting closer to that first flight.

787 (LN 1, ZA001) started taxi test early (very early) this morning. I'll try to have video up later today from various sources later in the day.

Guy Norris also put up a blog update:

Guy Norris: 787 - Countdown to first flight (resumed) Part 6

Free live streaming by Ustream

Friday, December 11, 2009

Countdown to flight flight - Dec. 11

Well not too much happened today except Boeing did install the static pressure cone in preparation for taxi tests and the start of flight testing. Boeing still needs the FAA ok to start flight tests but the 787 will resume taxi tests starting tomorrow morning (Dec. 12th).

Even though I haven't gotten definitive information, I believe Boeing's plans would be to conduct slow and medium speed taxi tests on Saturday. High speed taxi tests and perhaps RTO (rejected take off) test on Sunday/Monday. Tuesday would be first flight.

Right now the weather forecast is this:

Saturday, Dec. 12 - Cloudy, 38H/30L, 20% chance of precip
Sunday, Dec. 13 - Showers, 36H/30L, 40% chance of precip
Monday, Dec. 14 - Showers, 38H/37L, 60% chance of precip
Tuesday, Dec. 15 - Showers, 43H/43L, 40% chance of precip
Wednesday, Dec. 16 - Showers, 49H/47L, 60% chance of precip
Thursday, Dec. 17 - Showers, 49H/41L, 40% chance of precip
Friday, Dec. 18 - Showers, 45H/45L, 30% chance of precip

Not great flying weather ahead so Boeing might be held back by mother nature.

A little programming note: I'll be covering the first flight on Dec. 15th, 3000 miles away from all the action, here in NY. That evening I'll be flying (AA 757) to Brussels and then from there to Mumbai (Jet Airways 777-300ER). If the 787 doesn't fly on the 15th then I will try my best to update but it may not be possible until after I arrive in Mumbai and even then I'll have limited access as I would have to search for an Internet service provider or I'll be at a family wedding or I might be asleep when first flight occurs. Let's hope for clear skies on the 15th!

Here are some links to the news stories about the 787 that came out today:

Mike Mecham

Things with Wings

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Breaking: Boeing clears 787 side of body issue; completes final gauntlet. 787 cleared for flight

Boeing Image
UPDATE: Boeing Says the window for Dreamliner 1's first flight open on Dec. 15th at 10AM

Just out on the newswires, Boeing Press Release:

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Program Completes Static Test Analysis, Gauntlet Tests

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today completed the review and analysis of the static test that was conducted Nov. 30 to validate the side-of-body modification made to the 787 Dreamliner.

"I am happy to report that the program has validated the airplane structure for the 787 Dreamliner," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program.

Fancher also reported that the 787 team has completed final gauntlet testing on the first airplane. Testing lasted for just two days because only improvements made earlier this year during previous testing had to be examined. "We are very pleased with the results of this final functional testing. With the successful completion of static testing and this functional testing, our focus now moves to first flight."

During the test on the 787 Dreamliner static test airframe, the wing and trailing edges of the airframe were subjected to their limit load -- the highest loads expected to be seen in service. The limit-load test was required to clear the airplane for first flight. Boeing's test strategy is to conduct all limit-load tests and analyze data before conducting the ultimate load series, which is required for certification and will be conducted next year.

Boeing announced June 23 that it was necessary to reinforce an area of structure at the side-of-body section of the 787. The modification entails installing new fittings at 34 stringer locations within the joint where the wing attaches to the fuselage. The 787 team has completed modifications on the first three flight-test airplanes and the full-scale static test airplane.

First flight of the 787 Dreamliner is expected to occur after final flight readiness reviews, receipt of documentation from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and taxi testing. Both taxi testing and first flight are subject to weather conditions.

"We are pleased with the pace of progress in preparing to enter our flight test program," said Fancher.

Boeing still has to get final FAA clearance but I suspect that they would start taxi tests as early as Friday (tomorrow). Now the weather will be the determinant of when the 787 will finally leave the ground after almost two and a half years. What is surprising is that a first flight date has not been announced in the press release.

Flightblogger just put up a post, he expects taxi tests and final flight readiness review to take place on Saturday. Also the first three 787s (Dreamliners 1, 2 and 3) are done with the side of body modifications:

Flighblogger post

Another blog post, this time from Randy Tinseth of Boeing:

Randy's Blog

Guy Norris added his $5 to the news pot tonight. He adds that ZA003 is going through antnna and communications systems tests and is getting ready to join the test flight fleet. Read his blog:

Guy Norris: 787 Countdown to first flight (resumed) Part 5 Boeing's most pressing issue: production

A very interesting and insightful article by Saj Ahmad at talking about the most pressing issue Boeing Commercial Aircraft is facing: production of the 747-8 and the 787 models.

Key to Boeing financial stability, in the face of a production ramp down on the 777 line next year, is the production ramp up of the 787.

Read Saj article here:

2010: Testing Times For Boeing

Flightblogger: Boeing Increases 787 weights and shrinks 787-9 wing

As Boeing prepares for the first 787 flight, Flightblogger revealed that Boeing has increased the maximum take off weights (MTOW) weights of all three 787 variants. He cites the latest 787 airport compatibility report. For the 787-8 the MTOW was increased by 8,400kg though this will start with aircraft 20. For the 787-3 the MTOW is increased by 5,000kg and the 787-9 MTOW increased by 2,270kg.

Additionally, Boeing has decided to reduce the length of the 787-9 wing from 61.9m to the same length of the 787-8 which is 60.1m. The 787-9 and 787-8 were originally to have the same length wing but Boeing decided to in increase it to 61.9 but now has reduced back in order to help save weight.

Flightblogger: Boeing increases 787 MTOW, reduces 787-9 wing

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plethora of updates

As we get closer to first flight, bloggers and journalist are sending out all sorts of updates so let's summarize.

Basically the gist of the news coming out is that Boeing has started (and confirmed) final gauntlet for the 787. The reason for another gauntlet is during the last six months while Boeing dealt with the side of body issue, engineers made further refinements on many of the 787's systems. The final (shorter) gauntlet is to verify the modifications work and to verify the integrity of the entire 787 system integration.

Sources have told me that they still plan to finish gauntlet testing tomorrow. Now according to Guy Norris, Boeing has switch the order of the gauntlet blocks with testing the failure modes first and will test the B1 flight profile tomorrow.

The weather looks to play a major role on when the 787 takes off but before that Boeing still has to finish the final gauntlet, carry out taxi tests and more importantly give clearance for the 787 side of body issue. Boeing said it would take ten days to get the results so I suspect tomorrow and Friday are going to be big news days as that information should come out at that point.

I think Boeing will set a first flight date either tomorrow or Friday if the side of body is cleared and I think it'll occur on Tuesday, Dec. 15th weather permitting.

Until further news here are some of today's news links:

Randy's Journal


Yet another Flightblogger

Guy Norris

Matt Cawby (has a great video of ZA001 performing some gauntlet testing)

Flightblogger: Trent 1000s are ready to go

On today, Flightblogger posted a story saying that the Trent 1000s are ready for flight on the 787 citing Rolls Royce's chief engineer for the Trent 1000.

Also Boeing has confirmed the start of final gauntlet testing.

RR: Trent 1000 absolutely ready for first 787 flight

GEnx-2B engines started on first 747-8

Boeing Image
According to Matt Cawby's blog, Boeing has started the engines on the first 747-8 on Wednesday morning. First flight is planned for January 14th as the aircraft heads into gauntlet testing.

Matt Cawby's Dec. 8th post

Update: Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Successfully Completes 747-8 Freighter Engine Runs

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) successfully completed the first engine runs for the 747-8 Freighter. The milestone marks another step in the 747 program's steady progress in preparing for flight test.

"We are very pleased with the engines' performance during this test," said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. "The engines and all the systems performed as expected."

Engine runs began slightly before 10 a.m. (PST) Tuesday. During initial engine runs, the engines are started and operated at various power settings to ensure all systems perform as expected. The engine run test began with the auxiliary power system providing power to start the first of four General Electric GEnx-2B engines. The remaining three engines were started using the cross-bleed function.

Basic systems checks continued throughout the test. The engines were powered down and inspected and will be restarted following a technical review. The team completed a vibration check and monitored the shutdown logic to ensure it functioned as expected.

"This milestone is an exciting one for the GEnx-2B team and we anticipate the engines will continue the same high performance that we have experienced in our ground and flight tests," said Tom Brisken, general manager of the GEnx Program at GE Aviation.

The GEnx-2B engine is optimized for the 747-8. It helps provide customers with improved fuel efficiency, reductions in emissions and noise and a lower cost of ownership.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Boeing may build some 787 parts in North Charleston

Editor Note: Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times broke this story on Dec. 7th, 2009

Along with final assembly activities, Boeing Charleston might also get more 787 part manufacturing responsibilities to boot. Currently, the Boeing facility in Frederickson, Wa. builds the vertical tail fin for the 787 and other Boeing facilities in Washington State manufacture other parts for the 787.

Because these facilities are staffed by IAM 751 members, Boeing is looking to have the Charleston facility or a 3rd party do the manufacturing of the tail fin and the other parts for Charleston assembled aircraft. Frederickson and the other Washington area facilities will continue to manufacture the parts for 787s assembled at Everett. Boeing is trying to ensure that the 787 will continue in production in case of labor disruptions at Everett.

There is a possibility that Boeing can outsource the manufacturing of these parts to a third party but I do think Boeing will keep these in house and base it out of Boeing Charleston.

The story is by Dominc Gates from the Seattle Times. You can read more about it below:

Charleston likely to build more Boeing parts

Guy Norris: Final Gauntlet began this morning

According to Guy Norris at Aviation Week. Boeing has started the final gauntlet testing on ZA001 this morning. The testing should take about 2 to 3 days to complete which should coincide with Boeing having the final results from the static tests on the wing.

Guy reports that the gauntlet testing will be done in four blocks with the first block following the testing that would occur during the aircraft's first flight. The other blocks will test failure modes with the last block going through a full first flight in realistic conditions.

Guy Norris: 787 Countdown to first flight (resumed) Part 3

United Airlines buys 25 787s and 25 A350

UPDATE: UA says the 787 order is for the 787-8 model while they'll also buy the A350-900.

United Airlines announced a huge widebody order for 25 787s (type unknown) and 25 A350s (type also unknown). They also have options of 50 of each aircraft and these airplanes are meant to replace the 767 and 747s in United's fleet. The split buy is somewhat surprising as there was a general feeling that United would have gone with one manufacturer for the wide body order and another for the coming narrow body order.

What is also surprising is that United did not place any jumbo orders (747-8 or A380). The fact that they seem to want to replace the 747s with A350s and 787s says they're want to reduce capacity in the future (2016 to 2019 is when the new airplanes will be delivered) while probably offering more frequencies to their main routes.

More of a concern to Boeing is that United didn't select the 777, an aircraft that United had launched in the 1990s. I bet Boeing will now accelerate 777NG plans in order for it to be more competitive vs the A350, in my opinion they have no choice unless they want to cede that market to Airbus.

Here's United's press release:

United Invests in Future, Places Order for Next-Generation Aircraft

CHICAGO, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- United Airlines today announced a significant investment in the company's future with a widebody aircraft order that will enable the carrier to reduce operating costs and better match aircraft to key markets it serves, while providing its customers with state-of-the-art cabin comfort. The new technology aircraft will reduce fuel burn and environmental impact, while enabling service to a broader array of international destinations. United ordered 25 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft and 25 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and has future purchase rights for 50 of each aircraft.

The aircraft order follows a rigorous, six-month request for proposal process, which resulted in agreements with both manufacturers, enabling the company to meet its financial and operational objectives and respond to changes in future market conditions. The breadth in size and capabilities of the different aircraft models ensure the company has the right aircraft for the right market throughout the fleet replacement cycle.

Order an investment in the future
"Over the last few years we have made fundamental improvements in United's performance, delivering excellent cost control while improving the quality and reliability of our product. This aircraft order is another significant step on the path to position United for long-term success in a highly competitive global market," said Glenn Tilton, UAL Corporation chairman, president and CEO. "I would like to thank our team for making this order a reality in a manner that is consistent with our disciplined financial strategy. We are investing in our future, and we are well
positioned to take full advantage as the economy recovers in the shorter term."

United expects to take delivery of the aircraft between 2016 and 2019; at the same time it will retire its international Boeing 747s and 767s. These 50 new aircraft will reduce the average seat count by about 19 percent compared to the aircraft they will replace, and by about 10 percent when averaged over the entire international fleet. With the Airbus A350 powered by the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, and the Boeing 787 powered by either the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 or the GE GEnx, United estimates it will reduce its fuel costs and carbon emissions from the 50 aircraft by about 33 percent. Additionally, the company expects average lifetime maintenance costs for the new aircraft to be approximately 40 percent lower per available seat mile than the aircraft that will be retired.

The new aircraft will open up new revenue opportunities for United as the smaller size, longer range, and lower operating costs of these aircraft allow the company to profitably serve a broader range of international destinations. The A350 has a range 11 percent greater than the current B747, and the B787 has a range 32 percent greater than the current B767.

Both new aircraft offer significant improvements to the customer experience, including larger windows, more overhead bin space and improved lighting, among other features.

United leverages current environment, orders from both manufacturers

This order provides United with the most efficient aircraft for its international network, providing the right range, size and operating costs for United's diverse set of worldwide destinations, said CFO Kathryn Mikells.
"Our decision to move forward aggressively at the bottom of the business cycle clearly benefited us. We secured the right aircraft and the right deal for United," Mikells said. "The orders require minimal capital over the next few years but ensure we will have the right planes to strengthen our global network over the next

Ordering in a down cycle expected to reap benefits
"We are pleased to be working with United, our longtime customer, and launch customer of the Boeing 777," said Jim McNerney, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. "We think United is making a smart decision placing an order at this point in the cycle and taking delivery years into the future. The 787 Dreamliner will provide United with additional range and unmatched fuel efficiency."

"United Airlines is a global icon, and it's very gratifying that they have chosen the A350 to be a key part of their strategy," said Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. "It also is fitting that the selection of the eco-efficient A350-900 comes at a
time when the world is focusing on operating as efficiently as possible and minimizing environmental impact. Airbus and United have been partners for two decades, and we look forward to extending that partnership well into the future."

United last took delivery of aircraft in 2002, and last ordered aircraft in 1998.

Here's Boeing's statement on the United Order. Obviously the order is not finalized so it'll be interesting to see which model of each aircraft United will buy.

Boeing Statement on United Airlines Selection of 787 Dreamliner

SEATTLE, Dec. 8, 2009 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] is delighted that United Airlines has selected the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the replacement and expansion of its twin-aisle fleet.

“United’s selection of the Boeing 787 continues the 80-year partnership between our two companies,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The 787 is the first new airplane of the 21st century. Its advanced technology and unprecedented improvements in fuel efficiency will help United achieve its business objectives and enhance its leadership position among the world’s top airlines.” Boeing looks forward to working with United to finalize the order at which time it will be posted to the Boeing Orders and Deliveries Web site.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec. 15th first flight date far

Sources told me that Boeing is still tracking for a first flight on Dec. 15th and that testing is proceeding extremely well. This information is further reinforced by Flightblogger's post earlier this evening.

In his blog, Flightblogger says that Dreamliner 1 is expected to begin a 2 to 3 day final gauntlet starting as early as tomorrow and concluding around Wednesday or Thursday. During this testing Boeing will test the 92 systems on board the aircraft as put them through a simulated B1 first flight. They will also put the aircraft systems through simulated failures and observe how the systems react.

After the gauntlet test are completed and pending a favorable review of the static test data from ZY997 (static test air frame), Boeing will proceed into low/high speed taxi test as well as reject take off test (hopefully to take place the day before first flight). Of course first flight is again predicated up on successful review of the static data, the completion of the gauntlet and taxi tests and favorable weather in the Seattle area.

Flightblogger : ZA001 proceeds towards final gauntlet

Update: Matt Cawby has blogged that it looks like taxi tests will occur late this week into the weekend:

Matt Cawby's Dec. 7th Blog Post

Dreamliner 1 may start taxi tests soon

According to Guy Norris and Matt Cawby, Boeing may start conducting some taxi tests of Dreamliner 1 very soon. Matt Cawby on his blog post yesterday says that further VHF radio checks were conducted and added that taxi tests appeared imminent.

Matt Cawby also videotaped the LCF delivering the main fuselage section for Dreamliner 14 (LN 14).
Matt Cawby's Dec. 5th blog post

Today Guy Norris posted on his blog at Aviation Week that there is to be a "all hands" safety walk down which is a sign that taxi tests are imminent. Guy also said that testing thus far has gone very well. Now the question remains, with taxi test apparently coming soon, does that mean that Boeing is altering the path to first flight? What other testing is going to happen and when? What about the detailed static test results (should be coming within days). The answers to these questions will help determine when Dreamliner 1 will fly.

787 Countdown to first flight (resumed) Part 2

UPDATE (12/7/2009, 2:50PM) I'm getting word that Dreamliner 1 is being deiced. The only reason to do that is to either run taxi tests or to make sure that the aircrafts movable surfaces are free of ice during flight control surface movements in a test.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Guy Norris 747-8 and 787 updates

Guy Norris of Aviation Week posted a couple of updates for both the 747-8 and the 787 where he reviewed the pre-first flight test activities swirling around both RC501(747-8) and ZA001 (787-8). All indications are is that there is excellent progress being made to get these airplanes up and flying around in the projected time frames that have been revealed here and on Flightblogger.

Guy reinforced the view that Boeing hopes to have two 787s flying around the Seattle area before the end of the year. I wonder how long it'll be to get the other 4 flying test flights in support of certification?

Guy also put forth an interesting first flight date - Dec. 17th which is the 106th Anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers. HMMMM.

Now this weekend Guy reported that Boeing should be conducting or have conducted test of he engine electronic controls as well as flight control software regression testing. There will also be testing of several software updates that have since been installed in the aircraft systems. Additionally, the ground team that will monitor telemetry from the aircraft as the first flight starts will be going through a rehearsal of those flight tests. Lastly, for the Dreamliner 2, Boeing plans to start a series of ground tests on that aircraft on Monday, Dec. 7th. I'm assuming that Dreamliner 2 may follow the exact testing path that Dreamliner 1 is currently is undergoing.

Guy Norris' 787 countdown to first flight (resumed) part 1

With the Korean Air order under it's belt and the fact that the 747-8I detailed design is 90% complete, Boeing must is steadily marching towards the Jan. 14th first flight date for the 747-8F.
GE is hoping to wrap up certification testing of the GEnx-2B engines with natural icing tests. They're hoping to do that somewhere up in Everett around the same time that Boeing is hoping to get the 787 up in the air. How's that for karma!

Guy Norris' 747-8 Update

787 First Flight Roulette Wheel

Well I should start taking bets for first flight. I've heard of many dates but a lot of them have coalesced around the 14th to the 22nd.

Well further information reveals that the Dec. 14th to Dec. 19th time frame is looking more and more likely for first flight. Further, Dreamliner 2 is targeted to have it's first flight before Christmas.

In 20 days we could have two 787s flying around the skies of Seattle.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flightblogger: 787 First Flight Date's a Moving Target

Well the title sums it all up. I even heard a date of Dec. 12th though I really think that date is not realistic. One pattern is emerging: the date is going to be between Dec. 14th and Dec. 22nd and Boeing is marching towards that date.

Flightblogger reported that Boeing performed software checks as well as testing the thrust reversers. The final gauntlet testing is still schedule for next week and ZA002 is inside going through some final reassembly activities as well as getting it's fuel tanks washed out.

Also Matt Cawby reported on his blog that Boeing conducted VHF radio checks on the same frequency that was used for the taxi tests. The nose section for LN14 (Dreamliner 14) was delivered today on the LCF from Spirit Aerosystems.


Matt Cawby

Airbus start A350XWB production

Airbus announced today that they have started production on the first A350-900 with the laying down of of composite tape for a panel of the center wing box section in Nantes, France. The first airplane should be ready by 2012 for first flight and first delivery is planned for 2013.

Here's Airbus' statement:

A350 XWB first composite lay-up manufactured in Nantes
4 December 2009

Building on Airbus' evolutionary approach to aircraft composites development

The first composite lay-up for the A350 XWB has been manufactured today in Nantes, France, and marks the 'coming to life' of Airbus's new long range aircraft. This panel for the centre wing-box (CWB), entirely made of carbon, has a surface area of 36 square meters, making it the largest "monobloc" composite panel ever manufactured in Nantes, using a new state-of-the-art laying machine. Once assembled in Nantes, the CWB will be delivered to Airbus Saint-Nazaire for integration.

Along with other Airbus facilities, the Airbus plant in Nantes has a high expertise in composite material and is a leader in the manufacture of carbon fibre structural parts, such as the centre wing box and the keel beam for the A350 XWB. On the all-new aircraft Family, 53 per cent of the aircraft by weight will be composite-based, including major elements such as wings and fuselage.

"This key milestone for the A350 XWB programme has been made possible through Airbus' methodical and evolutionary approach to incorporating composites in its aircraft, and the consequent experience gained over many years," said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.

Didier Evrard, Head of the A350 XWB programme added: "The A350 XWB is becoming real, and further builds on our expertise in key areas such as: materials technology; predictive stress analysis and design; composite manufacturing; and composite engineering and assembly, including manufacturing processes and tool technology concepts."

The A350 XWB Family is Airbus' response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient medium-capacity long-range wide-body aircraft. With a range of up to 8,300nm / 15,400km, it is available in three basic passenger versions. Moreover, it has the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of
comfort, the lowest operating costs and lowest seat-mile cost of any aircraft in this market segment. Powered by new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent engines, the A350 XWB Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental constraints.

Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 505 from 32 customers worldwide.

Seattle Times: 787 First Flight targeted for Dec. 18th

Seattle Times reporter, Dominick Gates, is reporting that Boeing has set a Dec. 18th first flight date and that they hope to have Dreamliner 1 and Dreamliner 2 both flying by the end of the year.

I had reported earlier this week that Boeing is planning a Dec. 14th first flight date at the earliest so the schedule may have shifted to the right though I have not heard for what reason yet.

Still this is before the previously reported date of Dec. 22nd. I'm trying to confirm this date and the reasons for the move from the 14th.

Boeing Aims for two 787s to fly by year end

747-8I Gets a boost from Korean Air

Boeing Image

Boeing and the 747-8 program got a boost from an important Asian customer, Korean Air, when they signed an MoU (the deal is not finalized and won't appear on Boeing order tally until it is finalized) for 5 747-8I. These 747s will be delivered between 2013 and 2015 and will complement the 747-8F that Korean also will operate. Lately, Korean Air has been a huge Boeing customer with orders for the 787, 777-300ER and the 737. Now with them ordering the 747-8I they are committed to Boeing entire widebody line up. They also have 10 A380s on order.
Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing, Korean Air Announce Order for New 747-8 Intercontinental Five airplanes worth $1.5 billion at list prices

SEATTLE, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Korean Air today announced an order for five 747-8 Intercontinental jetliners. Korean Air is the first Asian airline to order the passenger version of the new, fuel-efficient 747-8.

The airplanes have a total average list price value of $1.5 billion. Korean Air already has arrangements to operate seven 747-8 Freighters.

"This is a great day in the history of our long and enduring partnership with Korean Air," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The technologically advanced 747-8 Intercontinental is particularly well suited for Korean Air's operations. It will provide exceptional levels of passenger comfort, greatly enhanced fuel efficiency and reduced emissions and noise. The announcement comes at an exciting time as we move closer to the first 747-8 Freighter flight in early 2010."

Korean Air plans on flying the 747-8 Intercontinental on long-haul routes to the Americas and Europe.

"The 747-8 Intercontinental fills the void between the 300- and 550-seat airplanes in our future fleet," said Won Tae Cho, managing vice president of Korean Air Passenger Business Division. "The technological enhancements Boeing has made to this airplane will deliver exceptional economics and a flying experience that will thrill our customers, enabling Korean Air to provide Excellence in Flight to our customers."
The new 747-8 Intercontinental is stretched 18.3 feet (5.6 m) from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in a three-class configuration, an additional 51 seats. It also offers a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,815 km). Using the new GEnx-2B engines, the 747-8 provides airlines a quieter, more fuel-efficient airplane. The 747-8 also provides nearly equivalent trip costs and 13 percent lower seat-mile costs than the 747-400, plus 26 percent greater cargo volume.

The 747-8 also features a new wing design and an upgraded flight deck. The airplane interior incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, upswept architecture that will give passengers a greater sense of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. The architecture will be accentuated by lighting technology that provides smooth transitions for a more restful flight.

The 747 program is in the later stages of the 747-8 Intercontinental design phase. Assembly on the airplane is set to begin around mid-2010, with the first delivery of the freighter version scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011.

With the addition of the Korean Air order, Boeing has secured 110 orders for the 747-8. Thirty-two of the orders are for the 747-8 Intercontinental, and the remaining 78 are for the 747-8 Freighter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dreamliner 1's engines are back on!

Photo and Videos Courtesy of Liz Matzelle

ZA001 Right Engine Start from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

ZA001 Left Engine Start from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

Thanks to Liz Matzelle who braved the cold Washington State weather she was able to confirm that 787 ZA001 (LN1 or Dreamliner 1) has restarted its engines for the first time since this summer. This is the start of the re-testing process leading up to the aircraft's first flight which hopefully should take place on Dec. 14th. Liz's photo shows the telltale smoke of the oil being burnt off as the aircraft Trent 1000 engines are restarted. This was the engine build verification tests that Flightblogger alluded to in his post. After the engine tests, navigational systems checks should be next within the next couple of days followed by closed loop gauntlet testing that should start early next week. Stay tuned, this is getting good.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

787 may fly on Dec. 14th

Photo by Liz Matzelle

Sources have told me that Boeing is targeting Dec. 14 at 10AM for the first flight of the 787.

This schedule is dependent on three important tasks being completed:
1. Detailed analysis of wing limit load test
2. Gauntlet testing (presumably done concurrently with the detailed wing load limit analysis)
3. Low/High speed taxi test and rejected take off tests

Sources have also said that ZA001 can start engine runs as early as this week.
ZA002 is not ready to undertake any testing as its fuel tanks are not closed or have had an aqueous wash after the modifications.

The immediate question is can Boeing pull it off so soon? They can in my opinion. When Boeing announced the latest delay, they were one week away from first flight and had completed all the major gauntlet testing and were about to start taxi tests, some of which they did do (low speed). With the potential clearance of the side of body flaw in about 10 days, Boeing would be back to the same spot they were on June 23rd. Boeing can concurrently carry out the detailed analysis of the static tests along with the gauntlet retesting as well as conduct low speed taxi runs up to the point that the detailed analysis is complete during those next 10 days. If it done by Dec. 10th then Boeing can have four days to do high speed taxi runs and rejected take off testing and go immediately into flight test mode on Dec. 14th.

Finally I reported that the 787 and 747-8 would make the first flight on the same day. That has since been disproved and the 747-8F will make it's first flight on Jan. 14th as I had posted earlier.
UPDATE - Flightblogger also is reporting the same news that ZA001 can be flying as early as Dec. 14th weather permitting.