Thursday, January 14, 2010

Boeing Flight Test Head "Giddy" over 787 test flight results thus far

In an interview with Bloomberg reporter Susanna Ray, Boeing flight test manager Dennis O'Donoghue says that he's almost "giddy" over the way the 787 has performed. There have been minor issues, of course, such as a cracked windshield on ZA002 and an instrument panel replacement on ZA001.

Even UBS, which has a sell rating on Boeing, says that testing is "progressing better than expected so far." UBS estimates that the 787 has flown 53 hours thus far. On my spreadsheet, I have 53 hours and 54 minutes of flight time through Jan. 13th. Every test flight is only flown with the two pilots and no test flight engineers are on board due to the aircraft still being experimental and the need to fully test the flight envelope which should take about 2 to 3 months to accomplish. Boeing is planning to accomplish all testing and certification by the end of September (nine and a half months of testing). According to the article, 12 months is typical for a new commercial aircraft program but Richard Aboulafia says that smart money is for a testing and certification period of 15 to 18 months. This is something that would be disastrous of the 787 program if it comes to fruition.

O'Donoghue says that the 787 has "exceeded my expectations for where we'd be at this point."

He also says that the 747-8F should start flight tests in the next few weeks. Word is that first flight for this aircraft would take place in February.

Bloomberg: Boeing Test Chief Is "Giddy" After 787's First Month of Flight

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