Monday, May 9, 2011

Trent 1000 engines get ETOPS 330 approval from FAA

Today the FAA gave Rolls Royce its seal of approval for ETOPS 330 (meaning the engine can operate on flights that are 330 minutes from the nearest airport). This is an important milestone but one that should not be confused with the ETOPS approval needed for the airframe (787) and engine (Trent 1000 or GEnx-1B) combination. That testing should start next month along with functionality and reliability testing. Boeing seems to getting close to those needed tests which will be the final set of tests prior to type certification and first delivery to ANA which is still expected in late July.

To add further evidence, ZA102 (LN 9), a 787 that has already flown in support of 787 flight testing and certification has been pulled out of the ATS Hangar 3 to the Everett flightline. It had spent months in the hangar going through change incorporation and re-work in order to participate in the F&R and ETOPs testing. It appears that Boeing is preparing it to resume flight tests.

ZA004 did start the process of swapping out its Trent-1000 package "A" engines on April 27th (starting wit the left engine) and the process should be concluded around May 18th (with the right engine). After some ground testing the aircraft will reenter flight testing probably around early June.

Lastly, Boeing also confirmed that the final version of the software that runs the 787 electrical systems has been installed on all flight test aircraft. This is the final hurdle required by the FAA that allows Boeing to proceed with the final phases of flight testing in light of the fire on ZA002 last November. Currently Boeing says that they are through 95% of the testing on the Rolls Royce powered 787 and 75% of required testing on the GEnx-1B powered airplanes. It should be noted taht flight testing has been muted in teh last few days. I'm trying to find out why.

The 787 is now finally on the road to the home stretch.

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