Monday, March 25, 2013

ZA272 test flight starts Boeing on the road to 787 return to flight

Boeing conducted the first of 2 (expected) test flights to return the 787 to service.  This afternoon's test flight was FCF (functional check flight) meant to verify the normal operation of the aircraft's systems including the problematic lithium ion batteries.  The flight lasted 2 hours and 9 minutes and Boeing reported that the flight went according to plan.  This was the first flight of the revamped lithium ion containment system and was performed on ZA272 (LN 86, SP-LRC) which will be ultimately be delivered to LOT Polish Airlines.

Boeing will analyze the flight test data and expects to conduct the one and only certification test flight using the same aircraft in the next few days with FAA personnel on board to observe the test.  Further, according to the Wall Street Journal, Boeing will ground test the lithium ion batteries on board ZA005 (LN 5, N787FT), which is also equipped with the new containment system, to failure in order to ensure that the containment system works as advertised.  Even though Boeing has said that they will fly only one certification test flights, the FAA may require that Boeing fly more certification test flights as they deem necessary. 

Boeing is still very confident of the system they have designed that they have not slowed down 787 production and anticipate resuming production flight tests in the very near future though I don't know when that will be.  It would certainly take place after Boeing fixes the 50 787s already delivered before retrofitting them on the aircraft on flightline's at Charleston and Everett.  It would probably take Boeing at least 2 months to return all the 50 787s to flight once FAA approval (as well as approval of the other global aviation authorities).  The Japanese aviation authorities (and others) may ask Boeing to carry out further tests to satisfy their own requirements thus delaying the resumption of service of the fleet of 787s outside of the United States.

Even though Boeing doesn't discuss their testing schedules, I do expect that if there are no issues from the data of this test flight that the certification test flight should occur by Friday or Saturday at the latest.

Currently, Boeing has 27 completed 787s awaiting delivery.  21 are at Everett and 6 are in storage in Charleston.  They're still adding one aircraft per week.


 






11 comments:

Andrew Boydston said...

I leave a comment as we ponder the path ahead. I never doubted the battery on this flight. Or the systems in place. It going to be all about flight cycles and multiples of batteries out the factory door. After several hundred flights Boeing should pull out a group of batteries after several hundred cycles each and compare them with same batch batteries set aside at the time of production when selected batteries moved forward and installed into the aircraft. I'm just guessing this testing will be ongoing over the next several years. Boeing needs to dog the causal affect on this system until they nail it.

Chris said...

Any idea if the retrofit can be done at remote locations or will Boeing (with special permits) have to ferry them to Everett?

Unknown said...

LN126/ZB001 is getting very close to the top of the waiting list! When do you predict she will enter final assembly? 7-8 weeks at the current rate?

Uresh said...

Mid-June

larmeyers said...

Hello Uresh,

s it expected that all of the early ZB series aircraft will be delivered to airlines after testing and certification? Thanks for your ongoing coverage!!

Andrew Munsell said...

only 3 more need to enter before LN133/ZB002 has a predicted date for entry into Final Assembly

ymnk said...

The second test flight has been done.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BOE272

Piotrek_ said...

http://paineairport.com/images/kpae9281.png
VT-ANG has its engines attached.

Rick Lieberson said...

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_04_05_2013_p0-565960.xml

Good news.

TravelingMan said...

Glad to hear the process is moving along. I suppose the big question remains whether or not they'll lose the ETOPS certification.

Andrew Boydston said...

Friday April 5, 2013 test flight on Flightaware 787 #272 Battery Test Flight.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/BOE272/history/20130405/1800Z/KPAE/KPAE