Sunday, February 27, 2011

787 surpasses another milestone - 3,000 hours flown

Today, February 27,th 2011, the 787 flight test fleet surpassed another milestone by exceeding 3,000 flight test hours flown. It appears that ZA005 was the aircraft that put Boeing over the top when it flew a 6 hour and 40 minute test flight out of Boeing Field. It also appears that the GEnx/787 flight testing has exceed 600 flight test hours during the same flight.

Additionally, the Rolls Royce powered 787 test fleet surpassed 2,400 flight hours flown when ZA004 flew a 5 hour mission yesterday (Feb. 26th)

I expect that there would be a confirmation of this milestone by Boeing sometime tomorrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boeing's statement on 1,000 flight milestone for the 787

Boeing Photo

From Boeing, nothing new versus what I have previously reported:

Boeing Completes 1,000th 787 Flight

EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner made its 1,000th flight yesterday, marking another milestone in the flight test program. There are seven airplanes participating in flight testing. The landing of 787 flight test airplane ZA004, just after 1 p.m. MST at Yuma International Airport, counted as the official 1,000th flight.

The program is near its 3,000th hour of flying and 787s have flown a total of more than one million miles.

"The team is making great progress," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "We are getting through the test conditions needed to certify this airplane with nearly 80 percent of the conditions for the first model, with Rolls-Royce engines, already complete. And, we're more than 60 percent of the way through the test conditions for the 787s with General Electric engines."

Capt. Mike Carriker, chief pilot for the 787, Boeing Test & Evaluation, said the airplane continues to behave well in testing.

"We're really eager to get this airplane through its flight testing so our customers can see for themselves this airplane's excellent performance," said Carriker.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boeing 787 Flight Test surpasses 1,000 flights

Today the Boeing flight test fleet flew it's 1,000th flight when ZA004 took to the air from Yuma Marine Corp Air Station for a 30 minute test flight. To date, Boeing has conducted 1,004 test flights since the program started on De. 15, 2009. Boeing has picked up the flight test tempo and has been flying all the test flight airplanes though ZA102 which had joined the test flight fleet earlier this year has now been sequestered in an ATS Hangar for unknown reasons. It is there with ZA101 which is supposed to be conducting ground tests and this may indicate that Boeing is incorporating changes and/or repairs to these planes before they recommence testing activities.

Another milestone for the test flight fleet is on the horizon with 3,000 flight test hours looming. Currently Boeing has surpassed 2,969 flight test hours. I suspect that this milestone will be reached sometime this weekend as Boeing is starting the final push to complete flight testing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fourteen Months In...

It was around this time that Boeing had hoped to start deliveries of the 787 yet this time of the year still see the 787 still in flight test due to the fire that occurred on ZA002 as well as the uncontained engine failure of the Trent 1000 engine in Derby, UK. Yet in the past one month, Boeing has aggressively flew the 787 to the tune of over 395 flight hours. During media briefings on Monday, Boeing says that they are over 80% complete on the test flight flight program for the Trent powered 787 and 60% on the GEnx powered 787.

Of the other accomplishments or milestone, Boeing has received the updated power panels that will be installed on all the 787 though I'm not sure if the software fix is complete. Once these new power panels are installed Boeing should be cleared to start ETOPs testing.

Boeing also received the first set of package "B" Trent 1000 engines. These engines, I expect, will be installed on ZA004 for flight tests. As I had reported earlier, ZA004 will be out for about two weeks (Feb. 23 - March 11) in order to install and ground test the engines prior to resuming test flights.

Boeing is also expecting to add another production 787 (either ZA100 or ZA101) to help finish off some test flights though they are trying to get both these airplanes close to a final EIS configuration as possible and that will determine which airplane will join in functionality and reliability and ETOPs testing.

In the meanwhile 787 production still continues at 2/month with the first 787 for China Southern and the 34th 787 (ZA380) entering final assembly. Currently each airplane spends about 8 weeks going through the final assembly process though that pace is expected to increase by year end. The 35th 787 will enter final assembly on Feb. 28th (this being ZA236 for Air India).

Guy Norris: 787 test update

Aubrey Cohen: Boeing 787 Dreamliner is 80% through flight testing

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Queen of the Skies...Always

Boeing Photos
Today, Boeing unveiled the newest member of the 747 family, the 747-8I. What wasn't very anticipated was the new lines of the aircraft since Boeing has been releasing photos of the assembly of the first 747-8I. The main buzz was surrounding the color scheme of the first airplane with some expecting a scheme similar to the one that is painted on the first 787 or one that is painted on the 747-8Fs that are currently in test flights.
Boeing revealed the 747 in a hybrid scheme of a red-orange colored 747 in the 787 Dreamliner paint scheme which they dubbed "Sunrise". The scheme is meant to symbolize the bridging of the gap between the original 747-100 (painted in red for its unveiling in the early 70's) which flew over 40 years ago and today's new 747.
The aircraft has since been towed to the Boeing flightline where it will undergo 6 weeks of preflight ground testing prior to its first flight expected at the end of March (latest word is around March 21st).
The second 747-8I to fly is an aircraft destined for Lufthansa in early 2012. This airplane should roll out in about a month and should be flying in late April. Both airplanes will conduct certification test flights over a 4 month period and encompassing about 600 flight test hours.
The 747-8 program has run into it share of difficulties partly due to the problems related to the 787 but also issues with regards to design which has stretched the testing and certification timeline out. Boeing is still planning to deliver the first 747-8I to the customer by the end of this year and to Lufthansa early next year. Here's Boeing's press release on the 747-8I unveiling:

Boeing Celebrates Premiere of New 747-8 Intercontinental

- Thousands gather for unveiling of only airplane to serve 400-500 seat market

- New 747 delivers unrivaled efficiency, new benchmark in environmental performance, welcoming interior for passengers
EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today unveiled its new 747-8 Intercontinental, the new high-capacity passenger airplane that offers airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance.

Approximately 10,000 guests, including customers, Boeing employees, government officials, partners and suppliers, gathered in the factory in Everett, Wash., to witness the premiere of the Intercontinental at an event themed "Incredible, Again." Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Albaugh said the newest 747 incorporates technological advancements that make it an extremely productive airplane for customers.

"The new 747-8 Intercontinental features the latest in innovative technologies — applying many of the breakthroughs also found on the 787 Dreamliner," said Albaugh. "We think our customers will value the low operating costs and passengers will enjoy the comfort of the striking new interior."

"The 747-8 Intercontinental will be a great complement to our fleet, fitting nicely into the 400-seat category, improving our fleet's eco-efficiency even further," said Nico Buchholz, executive vice president, Lufthansa Group Fleet Management. "As launch customer, we are looking forward to welcoming this new aircraft to our fleet next year as it adds to our ongoing fleet modernization and environmental efforts."

Korean Air and VIP customers have joined launch customer Lufthansa in ordering a total of 33 747-8 Intercontinentals. First delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled for the fourth quarter.

"As the only airplane in the 400 to 500-seat market, the 747-8 Intercontinental will give operators an airplane perfectly suited for long, heavily traveled routes around the world," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Airplane Programs, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The new 747-8 Intercontinental will set a new standard in economic and environmental performance, while providing a world-class passenger experience."

The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12 percent lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400. The airplane provides 16 percent better fuel economy, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400. The 747-8 Intercontinental applies interior features from the 787 Dreamliner that includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings.

The airplane unveiled today is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange that only will appear on the first 747-8 Intercontinental and is a significant departure from Boeing's standard blue. The new color palette honors many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck.
Here's some links to others who had covered today's festivities in Everett:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

ZA004 to get Trent package"B" engines later this month

Sources have confirmed to me that Boeing will be re-equipping ZA004 with the improve package "B" version of the Trent 1000 engine later this month. That engine has been undergoing testing on Rolls Royce's 747 engine test bed as well as at RR's engine test facilities for sometime now but installation on ZA004 was put off due to the fire on ZA002. Guy Norris summed up the package improvements nicely in an article from last September:

Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000 built to the improved ‘Package B’ standard is designed to bring performance to within 1% of Boeing’s original specification. Package B includes enhanced aerodynamics in the six-stage low pressure (LP) turbine, improved cooling flow for the IP turbine and changes to the secondary air system to take off sealing and cooling air at a lower pressure stage. The root-to-tip twist of the fan blade is also slightly altered to match changes in the pressure ratio caused by a concurrent reduction in nozzle area. Rolls has run at least three Package B performance engines and, when last reporting on progress, says all were in line with expectations. In March Rolls was flight testing the first Package B engine on its company 747 flying testbed ahead of delivering finalized engines to Boeing for installation on ZA004.

ZA004 is scheduled to receive the engines over a two week period (Feb. 23rd to March 11th). Previously, the installation and ground testing was to take about a month before resuming flights with the improved engines. If that schedule holds true this time around, then we could see ZA004 returning to the skies with the new engines around the last week of March. It will undertake much of the same testing that the 787 program conducted using the Trent 1000 package "A" as well as conducting ETOPs testing with the improved package "B" engines.

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.