Saturday, February 4, 2012

Boeing starts final 787/GEnx F&R/ETOPs testing?

It looks as if Boeing may have started the final F&R/ETOPS testing for the GEnx-1B powered version of the 787 Dreamliner. ZA236 (L/N 35, VT-ANH), a production standard airplane destined for customer Air India and recently transferred to Boeing Field took off at about 11AM PST from Boeing Field and flew a 6h 40min test flight down and up the Pacific coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California before returning to Boeing Field. It is understood that ZA236 had transferred to Boeing Field was the express purpose of conducting the final F&R/ETOPs tests flights in order to gain final certification for this version of the 787.

It is unknown, at this time, how many hours still need to be flown for the final phases of this test program but when Boeing flew the F&R/ETOPs test for the Rolls Royce powered version of the 787, they ran it to 300 flight test hours with ETOPS testing being done concurrently with the F&R testing on the test flights. Boeing has already run some of hte F&R/ETOPs testing on ZA006, a test airplane which is currently undergoing re-work and refurbishment ot a production standard airplane in San Antonio. The FAA is requiring Boeing to fly some portion of hte F&R/ETOPs testing o na production standard airplane. This testing has been delayed due to technical issues with ZA236, the nature of which is currently unknown.

Assuming that Boeing will still have to fly 300 flight test hours and assuming that half of this testing done by ZA006 is considered complete by the FAA, then Boeing may have to run about 150 flight test hours on ZA236. Assuming about 8 flight test hours per flight that would mean that ZA236 would have to fly 20 days in order to complete final certification flight tests for the GEnx 787. That would leave roughly a week for Boeing to submit the final type certification paperwork to the FAA and to get their final review and approval so that Boeing can begin deliveries to JAL and Air India a the end of this month. This is very tight. Current Boeing plans show have that ZA177 (L/N 23, JA822J) and ZA129 (L/N 33, JA825J) are being prepared for delivery on Feb. 27th with ZA179 scheduled to make its first flight on Feb. 7th. Whether Boeing can hold to this schedule depends on the pace of the F&R/ETOPs testing and any issues that may be revealed as a result of this testing.

Additionally Boeing has an ANA 787, ZA117 (L/N 40, JA806A) tentatively scheduled for delivery around Feb. 19th with a first flight date of Feb. 7th. All these schedules are tentative schedules and may (probably) will change over the course of the next few weeks.


Shuan said...

New problems have is certain that there are going to be more delays

Uresh said...

It's quite premature to state something like that.

Shuan said...

We all have seen such delays earlier also. Previous year Air India was to get the b787 in August/September but due to the problems it was delayed to end of 2011,and then to january 2012 and again to feb 2012 but now Indian sources are telling that in march they will recieve b787 which is also not sure. In such a condition i doubt boeing will be able to deliver 35-40 b787 this year. Hope i am wrong because any further delays would mean a huge cancellation of orders

Anonymous said...

I'm not in the know with Boeing but judging by the pace of things, it's been apparent since the beginning of this year that something isn't right and that new problems may have arisen. Anyone paying attention can see it.

Thanks for the updates Uresh.

johnv777 said...

Jon Ostrower is reporting a new delaminaion problem

"Structural stiffeners were found to be improperly joined to the composite skin in the aft sections of the aircraft, causing parts of the aircraft's carbon fibre structure to delaminate, confirms the airframer."

In the article Jon reports that Boeing believes it to be minor, but most aircraft on the flightline will need to be inspected.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, that doesn't sound good.

graeme77 said...

Boeing is reassuring on this issue - but as they have utterly destroyed their credibility during the 787 program - not because of production difficulties, but because of misleading statements, is anyone going to believe them?