Boeing will be sending a flight test 787-9 to New Zealand and Australia late this week to conduct hot weather testing as well as for marketing purposes. The aircraft, ZB002 (LN 133, N787FT) will sport the marking of launch customer Air New Zealand when it leaves Boeing Field around January 2nd or 3rd. It is due to arrive in Auckland, NZ around January 4th in the late afternoon where it will remain for 2 days as Boeing and Air New Zealand conduct a marketing program for the larger version of the 787. It'll leave Auckland on Monday Jan. 6th at about 11 AM local time for Brisbane where it will clear customs and then proceed to Alice Springs, Australia landing at about 5 PM local time.
ZB002 will conduct hot weather testing at Alice Springs from January 7th to January 11th. It is unknown if the aircraft will return to the united States immediately after completion of the hot weather tests or if it conduct more market/testing activities will down under.
Testing on the larger 787 variant apparently is going well by all accounts. Boeing has completed the first production 787-9 and should start on the 2nd production aircraft sometime late next month. The fourth 787-9 will participate in F&R testing as well as other testing activities that need to be completed. There are plans to include a 5th 787-9 in the testing process but I'm not sure if it will be ZB003 (LN 169, ZK-NZE) which will be the 1st 787-9 delivered to a customer.
Stay tuned for my 7887 2013 year end wrap up coming soon.