Friday, October 15, 2010

Ten Months In...

The 787 test flight program reached milestone yesterday with 2,000 flight test hours accumulated in the 10 month old flight test program. The milestone was reached when ZA002 flew a 20 minutes test flight to Moses Lake Airport. However, through the last half of September and the first half of October there has been a very noticeable slowdown in the flight test program. In period from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14th, Boeing posted 362.5 flight hours on the 787 spread across 121 flights. From Sept. 15th to Oct. 14th, the 787s flew only 165 hours on 71 sorties. That's a reduction of over 54%. With ZA004 being out a month starting in November, Boeing will have to depend on the remaining three airplanes sustain the flight test program.

Boeing still has over 1,100 test flight hours to complete. The 787-Trent 1000 flight test fleet achieve another milestone by reaching 75% of the required (2,430) flight test hours. That means that the Trent 1000 flight test fleet has a little over 600 flight test hours to complete certification. Boeing says it has completed over 65% of the required testing conditions thus far.

Next month Boeing plans to change out the engines on ZA004 from the current Trent 1000 with package "A" to the package "B" powerplants. The change out should take about a month including ground testing and this airplane will be back in the air sometime in December. It does look like that the first few Trent powered 787s delivered to ANA will be the package A versions though I'm not sure when Rolls Royce will start delivering the package "B" to Boeing.

In the meantime Boeing has flown the Trent 1000 aircraft fairly aggressively in the last few days but I do still believe that they still have a long road ahead of them despite being almost three quarters of the way through the flight test program. If Boeing can fly the four test airplanes about six and a half hours a day for the next three months, they can achieve certification of the Trent powered 787s a month before first delivery. The GE powered airplanes are over 27% done with their test flight program but currently both airplanes are in lay ups and have not flown since early October. I'm still trying to find out when those airplanes are planned to return to the air.

While the test flight program continues on, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times reported on the 787 that are piling up outside on Everett's flight line:

Dominic Gates: Boeing 787s stack up at Paine Field awaiting FAA approval

ZA102, the first production airplane to fly is now slated to have it's first flight around November 24th as the aircraft continues its final fitting out before being rolled out, presumably early next month.

Boeing Photo

Lastly, the 747-8I program achieved a milestone itself when the first airplane entered final body join. This aircraft should roll out at the end of this year or early next year with the flight test program due to start in early 2011.

Guy Norris has a blog post out that also details the 747-8F test flight program thus far:

Guy Norris: 747-8I Comes Together

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Joins Fuselage Sections for First 747-8 Intercontinental

EVERETT, Wash., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) moved closer this week toward completing assembly of the first 747-8 Intercontinental as mechanics in Everett, Wash., loaded the forward and aft fuselage sections to join with the wing and center section.

The 747-8 fuselage is 250 feet 2 inches (76.3 meters) long, which is 18 feet 4 inches (5.6 meters) longer than the 747-400. The stretch provides space for 51 additional seats to accommodate 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration and offers 26 percent more cargo volume.

"Final body join is an important milestone for the 747 program," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Airplane Programs in Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It is a major step toward completing the structural integration and building out our all-new interior. We now have the first real look at the size and distinctive shape of the 747-8 Intercontinental. This is going to be a superb airplane for our customers both from an aesthetic and a performance perspective."

The 747-8 is the new high-capacity 747 that will give airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. The airplane also features a 787 Dreamliner-inspired interior that will offer passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort.

The 747 program has orders for 109 747-8 Freighter and Intercontinental airplanes. Thirty-three of those are for the 747-8 Intercontinental, with orders coming from Lufthansa, Korean Air and eight VIP customers. The first 747-8 Intercontinental delivery is scheduled for late 2011 to a VIP customer.


Rajib said...

As Beoing said there were unplanned or prolonged lay-ups to install flight test instrumentation required to uddress unforeseen issues, it is only logical to assume that the number of flight test hours for certification is going to exceed the originally planned totals of 2,430 hours (RR) and 670 hours (GE) respectively.
I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing announced another 6 month delay to entry into service.

Uresh said...

I'm sorry but that claim is quite ridiculous and has nothing to support it. There's no reason that Boeing has to increase the number of required flight test hours just because they have to change out flight test instrumentation. I trully don't think there is going to be another delay...there are some people here who're just a little too high on the Kool Aid.

Glenn said...

Hi Uresh, just a quick question. I read on Randy Tinseth blog this : "We’re watching this week as we approach 2,000 hours of testing, a real milestone. But even more important than hours, we’ve completed nearly 65 percent of our test conditions for 787s with Rolls-Royce engines."

Does that mean that they could fly more hours in order to complete all test conditions? Or dou you think they will complete the conditions before the 100% hours mark?