Friday, February 19, 2010

Dreamliner 4 to start gauntlet testing; Dreamliner fleet exceeds 150 flight hours

Matt Cawby reports in his blog that Dreamliner 4 will start gauntlet testing today (Feb. 19th). This indicates that ZA004 should join the test flight program soon. The question is how soon. Boeing has said that both Dreamliner 3 and Dreamliner 4 will be flying by the end of February.

Matt Cawby's February 18th Post

However, Flightblogger Jon Ostrower reports that Dreamliner 4 should fly around February 21st and Dreamliner 3 should fly around March 2nd. I'm not sure how long Boeing will take for the gauntlet tests but they would have to run some sort of taxi tests before first flight. I'm not sure if Boeing would be able to get her in the air by Sunday but we'll see. I'm more inclined to think that ZA004 will take to the air around the 26th but I have been wrong before.

Flightblogger's 787 Test Flight Program Update

Flightblogger's 787 Month Two Update

Dreamliner 1 and Dreamliner 2 continue flutter tests towards receiving the TIA for the 787. Yesterday, Boeing pushed ZA001 further with speeds hitting 0.88M or a little over 500 knots. The aircraft's cruising speed is about 0.92M so Boeing is certainly building up to that and will be able to do more extensive testing in the high speed regimes once Dreamliner 4 gets into the test flight program. Up through February 18th, the two Dreamliners have accumulated almost 155 hours of flight time spread over 47 flights.

In the two months that the 787s have been flying, Boeing had achieved about 5% of the flight test hours they say that they will fly by the time the aircraft is certified and delivered to ANA. Boeing aims to have about 3,100 flight hours logged by that time between the 6 test flight airplanes. They still have a very long way to go. While the addition of airplanes 3 and 4 to the test flight program will aid immensely in getting more hours logged, I have to wonder if Boeing will be able to achieve their flight hours targets given the pace of flight testing thus far. There has been some delays and some minor squaks that have kept the two Dreamliner's on the ground more than Boeing probably would like but I have been expecting that ZA004 and ZA003 would have been further along compared to where they are now. The two 787s have been flying about 4 to 5 hours on each sortie not the 8 hour average which is what Boeing had indicated that they will be flying. Again time will tell and hopefully Boeing will be able to add on the flight hours with the addition of airplanes 3 and 4.

In other news, Mike Mecham, of Aviation Week broke the news that the first 747-8F to be delivered to a customer was rolled out of the Everett final assembly building (presumably it's in the paint hangar). RC501 should return to the skies shortly. Flightblogger also reported that Vought start manufacturing the first parts for the 747-8I, the newest passenger version of the 747. This airplane should start final assembly around May rolled out late 2010 and have first flight in the first quarter of 2011 with delivery to a VIP customer in the 4th quarter of 2011.

Mike Mecham's Blog Post

Flightblogger: Vought starts 747-8I production : 747-8 Update

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