The final Boeing 787 Dreamliner to join the flight test fleet made its first flight on last week.
The airplane, ZA006, is the second 787 equipped with General Electric GEnx engines to fly. Captains Christine Walsh and Bill Roberson were at the controls during the 1 hour and 4 minute flight.
“It’s great to have our last flight test airplane join the fleet,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “We have been focused on completing the testing required for certification of the 787 with Rolls-Royce engines, because that is the first model we deliver. A great deal of the testing that we’ve done also applies to the 787s with GE engines and won’t need to be repeated.”
There is, however, a smaller portion of testing that is unique to the engine/airframe combination. In general, this portion includes noise testing, extreme weather operations, function and reliability, and extended operations. In addition, testing to verify the airplane handles the same regardless of engine type and that the systems work on both models is required.
Some additional flight tests will be performed on one of the production airplanes, the ninth 787 to be built, but it is not considered a full-time member of the flight test fleet.
The 787 flight test program has logged more than 1,900 hours over 620 flights and completed more than 65% of the flight test conditions for 787s with Rolls-Royce engines.
Equally important to the testing required in the air is the ground testing required to certify a new airplane. Boeing has completed well over 4,000 hours of ground testing on the same airplanes that are in the flight test program.
In addition, fatigue testing has started at a test rig in Everett. Fifteen flights have been simulated. Federal regulations require Boeing to conduct twice as many flight cycles as any airplane in revenue service. Boeing plans to have completed 10,000 flight cycles prior to first delivery.