A major step that many around the world have been waiting a long long long time for.
The first prototype of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner designation ZA001 registration N787BA is finally “shop complete” and has been moved to the flight line. See video.
Fuel testing, the first in the series of extensive checks the airplane must undergo, will begin in the next few days. ZA001 will then undergo additional airplane power and systems tests as well as engine runs. After completing final systems checks and high-speed taxi tests, the airplane will be ready for first flight, which is on schedule for later this quarter.
ZA001 completed a rigorous series of tests including build verification tests, structures and systems integration tests, landing gear swings and factory gauntlet, which is the full simulation of the first flight using the actual airplane. With Chief Pilot Mike Carriker at the controls, the simulation tested all flight controls, hardware and software. The simulation also included manual and automatic landings and an extensive suite of subsequent ground tests.
All structural tests required on the static airframe prior to first flight also are complete. The final test occurred April 21 when the wing and trailing edges were subjected to their limit load – the highest loads expected to be seen in service. The load is about the same as the airplane experiencing 2.5 times the force of gravity.
Ground vibration testing, which measures the airplane’s response to flutter (experienced during extremely high speeds like dives), are also concluded on the second flight-test airplane, designated ZA002, at the end of this week. All the necessary structural tests required prior to first flight now are complete.
Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 Dreamliner program says
“These results give us confidence in our ability to move into further gauntlet testing using either ground power or the airplane’s engines or auxiliary power unit. This is a significant milestone on the path to first flight,”
For airplane lovers and followers, moving a new model airplane to the flight line is a big and exciting moment. I am sure all the folks at Boeing and their partners have put significant efforts to recover from the blows of the last year. I offer my congratulations for a job being well done and best wishes for the future, but the job on ZA002-ZA006 is still on, and the team at Boeing will echo the words of poet Robert Frost “But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep,”