Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Flying the Wings Off

The head of BCA, Jim Albaugh, said in May 2010 that Boeing would be "flying the wings off those airplanes" meaning the 787. Since then Boeing has had several set backs in trying to accomplish the rapid accumulation of flight test hours. The 787 flight test team was seemingly on its way to piling on the flight test (and ground test) hours during last fall but was abruptly halted with the fire on ZA002 on Nov. 9th.

Since the resumption of flight test Boeing has been aggressively ramping up flight tests especially after the FAA gave its ok to resume certification test flights. For example. in the one week between Jan. 24th and Jan. 31st, the Boeing test flight fleet flew almost 100 flight test hours. On Feb. 1st Boeing had 5 of the test flight airplanes flying, they accumulated about 16 hours in one day of flying. Obviously not all the flight tests will be dedicated to certification activities but Boeing clearly will be flying these airplanes more than 3,100 hours that they originally said that they would need to in order to properly test and certify the 787. Part of the reason for more test flight hours is that Boeing needs to test fly any changes and fixes that they are required to incorporate into the design.

As long as there aren't any mo major hiccups like the fire in November, Boeing should finish most of the non ETOPs flight testing by March. A source has confirmed that the schedule, as it stands today, should see the bulk of ETOPs testing in the period between March and May. The last certification test flights should occur around July though the bulk of the remaining certification flying will be done well before July.

The FAA and EASA will need a couple of months after the completion of flights to churn through the remaining data and issue the certification for the 787 to allow delivery by the end of September.

In the meantime, Boeing will continue to fly the wings off the 787 as it tries to meet the new schedule for certification and delivery.


johnv777 said...

WOW. Yesterday all 7 test aircraft were in the air. I believe this is a first for the program.

Uresh said...

Almost John, ZA002 didn't fly.

johnv777 said...

Sorry, I misread ZA102 as ZA002. Wishful thinking.. :)

Rene said...

Uresh - as one of many, many who are watching these flight test stats (I check them every day), I am getting excited with testing just over 120hrs shy of the 3,000hr mark. Since Boeing's test schedule has changed (since the ZA002 fire and subsequent changes), can you comment on how close your figures are to Boeing's new targets for certification? Thanks for tracking this by the way, I follow your blog daily! - Rene Rosales

Uresh said...

I hope to put out something on this later tonight (if I get the time).