Friday, September 20, 2013

787-9 flight testing picks up as production 787 flight test tempo increases ahead of planned deliveries

Boeing Photo

Exactly 196 weeks or 3 years and 9 months after the first flight of ZA001 on December 15, 2009, Boeing successfully flew the next member of the 787 family, the 787-9.

Just a few days after the first 787-9 took to the air, the aircraft is packing on flight hours just a few days after taking its maiden flight.  Boeing is leveraging off the flight tests of ZB001's smaller sibling, the 787-8, to aggressively e 787-9's flight test envelope.  Because the aircraft is a  stretch of the 787-8 with the same wing and many of the same systems.  There are differences beyond the stretch of the airframe and these will be tested but given that Boeing has a ton of data already on the aircraft from the 787-8 testing they can pursue a higher flight rate.  It is still Boeing's plan to have a 6 month flight test/certification program.

There are still 2 more 787-9 in production.  The next one, ZB002, is almost complete.  ZB001 took 110 days from the start of final assembly on May 30 to first flight on September 17th.  If ZB002 takes the same amount of time (110 days) and using the July 12th date as the start of final assembly, this aircraft can possibly fly around October 30th.  However, I do expect that Boeing will apply lessons learned during the run up to ZB001's first flight to shorten that time.  It is entirely possible that ZB002 can fly around mid October.  Of course this is all dependent on finishing assembly activities and successful completion on ground testing.  ZB002 should roll out sometime in the first week of October if not earlier.

ZB021, the test aircraft that will be equipped with GE engines started final assembly on August 21st should roll out to the flightline around mid November and should fly by around early to mid December.

In the meantime Boeing is increasing the tempo of production flights has increased in the last few days as Boeing attempts to deliver around 10-12 787s this month.  So far 1 has been delivered.  We should see a good number of deliveries next week including 787s from the Charleston facility.

Lastly, I am attempting to document the 787-9 flight test program on a spreadsheet which is linked below.

Full 787 List

Current 787 Production List

Delivered 787 List

787 Monthly Delivery Tracking

787 Customer Delivery

787-9 Flight Test Hours


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

1st 787-9 flight scheduled for today, weather dependent

UPDATE: (11:02AM Local, 2:02PM ET): ZB001 in the air!

UPDATE: (11:00AM Local, 2:00PM ET): BOE001 Heavy Cleared for takeoff!!)

UPDATE: (10:54AM Local, 1:54PM ET): BOE540 (787-8) waiting to taking off

UPDATE: (10:52AM Local, 1:52PM ET): Chase Plane on its way to Everett from Boeing Field

UPDATE: (10:41AM Local, 1:41PM ET): Still holding short of Runway 34L

UPDATE: (10:36AM LOCAL, 1:36PM ET): Waiting for the Boeing chance aircraft coming up from Boeing Field.  The takeoff runway will then be decided.

UPDATE: (10:27AM Local, 1:27PM ET): BOE001 Heavy Cleared to taxi runway 16R.

UPDATE: (10:22AM Local, 1:22PM ET): Engine Start!

UPDATE: (10:07AM Local, 1:07PM ET): Takeoff now expected at 10:30AM Local.
UPDATE: (10:33AM Local, 1:33PM ET): Taxiing down 16R/34L.  Looks to takeoff on 34L.

UPDATE: (10:29AM Local, 1:29PM ET): Taxiing!

UPDATE: (9:45AM Local, 12:45PM ET): Runway inspections is on going.  This is to prevent from and potential FOD damage to the aircraft during takeoff.

UPDATE: (9:30AM Local, 12:30PM ET): Crowds are gathering and Paine Tower is communicating with the crew on ZB001.

UPDATE: (9:20AM Local, 12:20PM ET):

UPDATE (9AM Local, 12 noon ET): Weather is looking good.  About 6 miles visibility and ceilings look fine.  About 1 hour until first flight.

Boeing's stretched 787-9 is on Flightaware for today's first flight:

787-9 First Flight

Boeing is planning a webcast of today's first flight which should leave at about 10AM local time and arrive at Boeig Field around 2:45PM local time.

787-9 First Flight Webcast

The flight will only take place if the weather cooperates.  Boeing needs a minimum ceiling of 1500'. 

If today's flight actually takes place it will come exactly 3 years and 9 months (or exactly 196 weeks) of  ZA001's first flight on December 15, 2009.  This was the first flight of the 787-8. 

I'll continue to update this blog entry especially with regards to the weather at Everett.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First 787-9 start taxi tests in preparation for 1st flight

Boeing Photo

Boeing conducted taxi tests with ZB001 (LN 126, N789EX) in preparation for its first flight which is expected tomorrow.

The taxi test were carried out on very rainy conditions and weather will play a role in the decision to carry out the test tomorrow or not.  Taxi tests are the last set of tests prior tofirst flight of the aircraft.  It is expected that ZB001 will land at Boeing Field where Boeing Test Flight team is based.  The test and certifiation program is expected to last 6 to 9 months.

Currently the weather at Everett for tomorrow calls for a 20% chance of rain but low ceiling may postpone the test flight.  Boeing requires at least a 1500 foot ceiling for any first flight including B-1 flights of in production models.  I'll be keeping tabs on the first flight which I suspect will take place, weather permitting, at about 10AM PT (1PM ET).

Full 787 List

Current 787 Production List

Delivered 787 List

787 Monthly Delivery Tracking

787 Customer Delivery


Friday, September 13, 2013

Boeing: First flight of 787-9 can come as early as Sept. 17th

Boeing just sent out a tweet saying that first flight can come as early as Sept. 17th.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

First flight of 1st 787-9 tentatively scheduled for Sept. 14th

Boeing Photo
Program sources have confirmed to me that Boeing has tentatively scheduled the first flight of ZB001 (LN 126, N789EX) for September 14th.  This is all dependent on successful conclusion of ground testing activities including the gauntlet testing.

According to Guy Norris of Aviation Week, ZB001 is due to undergo gauntlet testing but shouldn't take as long as testing for ZA001, the first 787-8 before that aircraft's first flight in December 2009. It does appear that Boeing may have been waiting for certification of Trent 1000 package C engines which was just been given by EASA (no word yet on FAA certification).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

787 firing updated

The 787 firing order was updated to reflect 787 production up to and including L/N 180.  The customers aren't all that surprising but it does include the first 787-9 for Air New Zealand (ZB003, L/N 169) as well as three more 787-8s for Ethiopian.  Ethiopian is leaving open the possibility of increasing their 787-8 fleet after the final 787s are delivered in 2014.

Here's a rundown of L/N 162 to L/N 180:

ANA - 1
Air Canada - 2
Air India - 1
Air New Zealand - 1
British Airways - 2
China Southern - 1
Ethiopian - 3
Hainan - 1
ILFC/Aeromexico - 1
ILFC/Norwegian - 1
Jetstar (QANTAS) - 2
Norwegian - 1
Qatar Airways - 1
Royal Brunei - 1

With Boeing planning to increasing the assembly at aircraft 158 (ZA244, L/N 159, VT-ANP) by the end of the year.  This firing order should show aircraft that start final assembly through the end of February, 2014.

Boeing continues to prepare ZB001 (LN 126, N789EX) for first flight.  This should take place within the next 10 days.  The static pressure cone has been attached according to Matt Cawby.  Boeing has sent ZB002 (LN 133, N789FT) to get painted then will return to the assembly line where it will have more flight test equipment installed.  ZB021 (LN 139, N789ZB) is well into final assembly.  The first 2 aircraft will go to Air New Zealand after being refurbished though the final destination of the GE powered ZB021 is unknown.  It is rumored that the Mexican Air Force will get this aircraft to transport that country's leader and other government officials.

Lastly, Boeing still has to resume production flight testing though some flights have occurred for Charleston built 787s. Stay tuned for this month's flight tests to start within a day or two.

Full 787 List

Current 787 Production List

Delivered 787 List

787 Monthly Delivery Tracking

787 Customer Delivery