According to program sources familiar with the schedule, the "photo finish" assessment is apt with the pace of working tracking closely to, or narrowly behind, where it needs to be, though major progress for Dreamliner One has picked up in recent weeks.
Power-on, according to several 787 program sources, is targeted for the middle of this month, though Boeing has built in a buffer to utilize the entire month of June for preparations if needed.
David Hess, President of Hamilton Sundstrand told a group of reporters, including FlightBlogger, visiting its Rockford, Il facility earlier this week that, "The power-on software is done and delivered, [Boeing's] got 100% of the hardware and software they need for power on."
"I fully expect [Boeing] to achieve that milestone by the end of the month," Hess declared.
According to Hamilton Sundstrand, the " full-up red label" power-on software build was delivered May 28. On the same day, Hamilton Sundstrand also delivered the first "blue label" Safety of Flight software build for additional lab testing to Boeing.
The power-on software differs from the Safety of Flight software because the power-on software is only intended for us in ground testing and does not require equipment such as the engines to be installed. Hamilton Sundstrand anticipates further changes to the Safety of Flight software as it matures in preparation for first flight. The more finalized Safety of Flight software build is to be delivered to Boeing in the next 30 days.
Hess added that for Hamilton Sundstrand, the pacing item continues to be software development, though progress was steady.
"A month ago Boeing was pretty uncomfortable with the risk levels as they looked at our schedules as to what we had to get done. Not that we were delaying the program, but if they look out ahead of us, they had some concerns in terms of the risk levels and the amount of software work we had complete in the coming months. Now we've since had reviews with them, shown them schedules, and I think they're, and I wouldn't say comfortable, but I think we've shown them a plan that supports their program and we're executing the plan."
Shanahan told reporters in mid-May that at the time he was still waiting on items from Hamilton Sundstrand for Dreamliner One.
"I told my friend Mr. Hess, I'll give you the best meal you've ever had if you get [the power supply] to me by the end of June", Shanahan said of Hess.
Hess tells FlightBlogger that he and Shanahan had been exchanging emails in recent days regarding their deal and that, "it was time for Pat to get out his wallet."
Progress for ZA001
As the 787 continues on its path to power-on vital assembly milestones are being accomplished in Everett. According to a program source close to work being completed on Dreamliner One, the aircraft has recently received its flight deck, including its five 15-inch liquid crystal displays, electronic flight bags, overhead panel, and bulkhead. The source added that the flight deck was, "basically complete minus the chairs."
When discussing the 787 flight deck completion, a veteran Boeing engineer jokingly speculated the seats might not be entirely necessary, telling FlightBlogger that, "Company folklore has it that when the 727 made its first flight, the pilots were basically sitting on milk crates." Adding that it's, "Probably an urban legend."
As work toward power-on progresses, continuity testing of the electrical current return network is now underway in Everett on Dreamliner One's electrical system. The goal is to ensure the 60 miles of wiring is properly connected before activating power for the first time.
Flipping the Switch
When power-on testing gets under way, the cold and dark flight deck will come alive when the battery switch on the left side of the overhead panel is pressed for the first time. This moment, in essence, is the first beat of the aircraft's heart.
Once that switch is pressed the 787s onboard bus power units will come online, allowing a checkout process for the overall status of the aircraft. Initially, the minimum amount of flight deck displays will be illuminated to diagnose the health of the aircraft.
The aircraft's circuit breakers will almost all be open at the time power is first applied, then closed one system at a time to validate the flow of electricity across the aircraft before moving to the next.
Shanahan detailed the importance of these first steps for power-on during his mid-May media briefing.
"We'll have a good understanding of how well we've done systems integration and it's really at that point we understand what kind of airplane we have and a bunch of risk gets retired.
"So, if you called up July first and said, "Pat, how's it going? What do you know about this airplane?" I'll know significant amount more about the airplane and our ability to meet schedule on July first. We'll have taken all our work in the lab and put it in one airplane, so it's a big deal for us."
Image Credit FlightBlogger - 787 overhead panel mock-up at the Dreamliner Gallery