Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flight Test Review

Boeing Photo
Yesterday was a busy day for Boeing...and this blogger! Boeing has a large staff to keep track of all the flight testing going on but I'm just all by my lonesome trying to keep up with all the events that were going on. So here's a summary plus a little look forward.

ZA001 - Took off yesterday at around 11:42 AM PT and proceeded to fly for about 6 hours easily the longest 787 test flight to date. During that time ZA001 reached speeds of about 0.93M or about 538 knots and as a high as 30,900 ft as this aircraft continues the all important flutter tests ahead of receiving the TIA (Type Inspection Authorization).

ZA002 - Took off yesterday at about 9:11AM PT and only flew for about an hour and twenty minutes. It flew no higher than about 16,000 feet and reached speeds of around 0.54M or about 310 knots. It continues to evaluate the stability and control characteristics of the 787. It landed and Moses Lake and was on the ground for a few hours (presumably conducting ground tests) then took off and flew straight into Boeing Field.

ZA004 - Flew for the first time yesterday morning at about 11:43AM PT yesterday morning and flew directly to 30,000 ft where it would cruise around at speeds of about 0.68M. The airplane flew for about 3 hours which included a touch and go at Moses Lake and then flew directly to Boeing Field in Seattle.

Going forward - I heard that we shouldn't expect ZA003 to be in the air until mid March at the earliest so for the time being we'll be entertained with the flying of Dreamliners 1, 2, and 4. Know I was told that if Boeing readies ZA005 sooner than that would be the next fly because each 787 test airplane is on its own independent assembly and test track. ZA005 does have its GEnx-1B engines installed and the pace to get the airplane ready for its first flight is quickening. It could be that ZA003 and ZA005 could fly at about the same time it all depends on how each of these airplanes progresses through the reassembly process and the pre-flight ground testing that will follow.

For now ZA004 will be conducting some ground tests but will return to the air soon according to Guy Norris and I expect that ZA001 will push out the flutter envelope further in the days to come.

Guy Norris' 787 Update

Randy Tinseth also marked the first flight of ZA004 with a blog post of his own. In it he explained the need to fly Dreamliner 4 because of data that Boeing engineers need to help with the design of the 787-9. I suspect that Boeing will quickly ramp up test flight on ZA004 as quickly as possible.

Randy's Journal - First Flight of ZA004

Boeing Photo

One last note, Boeing and United Airlines jointly announced that they had finalized United's order for 25 787-8. United also has options on a further 50 787s though I'm sure they can switch those options (as well as the firm orders) amongst the different 787 variants (current and future). Here's the joint press release from Boeing and United:

News Release Issued: February 25, 2010 11:04 AM EST

Boeing and United Airlines Finalize 787 Order

United to expand international service with fuel-efficient Dreamliner

SEATTLE and CHICAGO, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) and United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA) have finalized an order for 25 787-8 jetliners. The agreement includes the opportunity to purchase another 50 Dreamliners.

"Boeing and United Airlines share an 80-year partnership," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "United, which launched the Boeing 777, now begins a new chapter with the 787 Dreamliner, the most technologically advanced commercial jetliner ever built."

The order is valued at $4.2 billion at average list prices.

"United's Boeing 787 order represents a substantial investment in our future and will enhance the significant progress we are making in improving the global competitiveness of our company while providing the opportunity to open new profitable markets and serve a broader range of international destinations," said John Tague, president of United Airlines.

United expects to take delivery of the 787s at the same time it will begin to retire its Boeing 747s and 767s operating on international routes.
The 787 Dreamliner, currently in flight test, will provide greater fuel efficiency,
allowing airlines to add new, nonstop city pairs and the additional frequencies that passengers prefer.

The 787 also promises a more comfortable flying experience for passengers. Its innovations include a new interior environment with improvements in air filtration, higher cabin pressurization resulting in reduced physical fatigue, larger windows, more stowage space, improved lighting and other passenger-preferred conveniences.

The technologically advanced 787 will also provide airlines with up to 45 percent more cargo revenue capacity.

Including United Airlines, 57 customers around the world have ordered 876 Dreamliners, making the 787 the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history.

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