More 787 First Flight photos than you can shake a stick at

I think the title of this post captures it nicely. I’ll have some words to go with these visuals soon enough. In the meantime…enjoy.

31 Responses to More 787 First Flight photos than you can shake a stick at

  1. suland December 16, 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    Thank you, Jon! These are the pictures of the day!

  2. Trapperpk December 17, 2009 at 1:54 am #

    There was a lot of comment on previous blogs on the flexing of the wings. I believe after looking at these photos of the aircraft during taxi and at rest there is a significant camber in the wings at 1 G built into the design. This camber or degrees the wing sweeps upward is far greater than the conventional wing and is intended in the wing design and does not reflect an over flex during flight. During take off the wing appears very close to the same camber when initial G’s forces are applied, just like the photos show during the static test. This must be the designed response the engineers were expecting. Secondly, during flight the different photo angles taken from chase planes give the allusion the wing has flexed more than a conventional wing.

    However, since the wing is positioned with a steeper angle at 1 G shown or taxi, any applied forces exagerate the wing position over what a conventional wing looks like under the same forces. Both the camera angles and wing shape contribute to the allusion of an over flexing wing vs the conventional flater wing that has a slight degree of upward sweep. This is MHO would anyone else like to weight in on this that has more info.

  3. diego December 17, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    well, despite all the headaches and internecine politics, phil condit said long ago that point-to-point was what their research told them. boeing built the right plane. replacing the 747 would have been an disaster, to say the least. congrats boeing nation.

  4. AirShowFan December 17, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    You guys are still going on about the wing flex?

    Have you read this?

    And Trapperpk, I don’t think “camber” means what you think it means. (Nor “allusion”) ;]

  5. AirShowFan December 17, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    And here are my pictures. Feel free to shake a stick at them :],19985.msg240803.html#msg240803

  6. bruce December 17, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    It’s not camber (the amount of curve in the shape of the airfoil), but wing dihedral (the amount of upward sweep of the wing from SOB to the wing tip). Downward slope is called anhedral.

  7. RobH December 17, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    Maybe not ‘camber’ but a ‘curvy dihedral’, all I know is this thing has my vote for sexiest wing.

  8. RobH December 17, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    ‘Curvaceously dihedral’ – like that better.

  9. Franck December 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    Congratulations to everybody:
    Boeing employees and subcontactors first and then to the Boeing fans.

    I remmember April 27th, 2005 as one of the day of my life while seeing the 380 lifting up.

    Competitors we are, but aeronautic lovers is our common feature.

    Next step for me is to see it flying for real here in Europe.

    Airbus Employee and aicraft lovers.

  10. Szymon Dembowy December 17, 2009 at 12:21 pm #


    You were very lucky to be so close to the event. I had to share a limited space at the “grassy knoll” with, oh say, thousands of people. I captured some good shots though ( Hope to see you soon at KPAE. Nice explanation on the “camber” btw.

  11. Trapperpk December 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    MY allusion here is my 3:00 am during the “insomnia-middle-of-the-night” when I wrote that post. However, I like the term dihedral a lot better than camber after 3 cups of coffee and a nap. Your response lead to my delusion about illusion that I alluded to during my attempt to say the wings have a V angle from the front view a dihedral shape from the side view and swept back look from the top view. I am sorry for any confusion from my middle of the night commenting. The wing tips from the front view are almost higher than the cabin apex when wings are joined at the side body far below the passenger windows creating the V look from the nose to tail view. In flight, the wing tips appear to extend higher than the apex of the cabin roof from the line of sight from chase plane shot.

    I am just having a lot of fun with this beautiful aircraft trying to figure out this bird like wing that I have never seen before performing as designed. Thanks for the feedback. :}

  12. AirShowFan December 17, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    I know what you meant, sorry, just being nitpicky ;]

    I’ve been writing a lot of comments from my phone so my spelling is probably not the best either…

    I think we all agree that this is an exceptionally beautiful airliner.

    And Szymon, I’ll send you some of my pictures of the 787 taxiing past you guys, maybe you’ll see yourself in one :]

  13. marvin December 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    I was watching the vids, and I have to say that the wing flex made me feel mildly uncomfortable.

    It is hard to judge from video (because of the different shape of the wing), but it looks like the wings are flexing a lot more. It appears that Boeing is pushing their design a lot closer to fatigue limitations than we’re used to. Not that I’m scared for catastrophic failure, I wouldn’t hesitate to get on board. I’m just wondering whether it will make the decades without major refurbishment.

    I don’t know, It is just a feeling. Maybe in 20 years time we’ll be looking at those old planes with stiff aluminium wings like the canvas planes of old.

    And it certainly is good to see this thing finally in the air and all kudos for Boeing for doing so.

  14. Thad Beier December 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    The first Boeing plane with bodacious dihedral was the 777. When the triple-7 made its first flight, I couldn’t believe how high the wingtips were above the fuselage.

    Every bit of Boeing artwork of the 787 in flight has shown that gracefully bowed wing. It’s not a surprise by any means. I really don’t quite understand how the flaps, slats, and spoilers work when the thing they’re attached to is bending so much — but that’s why I’m in software :)

    Composites can be strong without being stiff, and they can be strong and stiff along each axis independently. Tailoring the strength and stiffness to the needs of the airplane is a large part of why composite planes can be light — you don’t have to build in unnecessary stiffness (and you really don’t want to, for gust alleviation) that you would in a isotropic material like, say, aluminum.

  15. John in CA December 17, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Want to see wing flex? Take off from Singapor in an A340 fully loaded….you look out and the wing tip looks like it is about 10′ above the top of the plane….as you finaly rotate you see the end of the runway….as you fly over the harbor you hope that you don’t catch any masts on the ships….20 min later you finaly make it above 10K’…..

    The wing flex is supposed to be there…..

    Think of this….the latest ‘craze’ in aircraft are the winglets…right? Now, think of that flexing wing….guess what…it’s about the same result….

    As for the flaps….they attach at two points for each section….I’m sure they have tested the flaps with the wings flexed on the static bird.

  16. ANonymous December 17, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    Are there any structures gurus here who can comment whether there is so much flex that we have to worry about delamination? From my limited experience dealing with composites, it’s not the fibers which you have to worry about, but the epoxy, right? How elastic is that stuff? Typically on smaller airplanes the wings are still stiff enough that you can get away with having composite structures. But, I’m assuming I’m just being a worry wart x.x

  17. bugref December 18, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Any news or updates regarding the second flight of the ZA001?

  18. Concerned Flyer December 18, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    High wing bending on a fully loaded aircraft is to be expected.
    The 787 flight was empty and displayed extremely interesting bending, imagine what it will look like fully loaded.
    The amount of fuel being carried in the wings will also contribute to the bending, a full wing will bend less.

  19. Engineer December 18, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    The wing shape during flight is well know to engineers thoughout the design process to within a fraction of a degree.

    The structure is designed to within the strain limitations of the material. These strain limitations are well know, whether the material is metallic or composite. The strain is limited to such a level that any potential delaminations, caused for example by impact damage (i.e. from FOD, bird strike etc. ) do not propigate and compromise structural integity.

    The structure is designed to meet all design service goals. But anyway, composites does not suffer from fatigue (at least in the strain range used for structural design). It is one of the advantages of using composites for aircraft structures.

    Hope this stops you guys from worrying….

  20. logane December 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    Great photos of the first flight. I’m still a little curious about the delay after first flight. If the first flight ended early due to weather and only half the test points were taken, why would you not go up at the next good weather opportunity to gather the remaining test points? The second plane now looks to fly before the first plane takes off again from a article posted on the homepage. I know engineers must be going over data, but one week of a certification schedule is now gone. The scheduling and order of events do not look very logical to me.

    I’m also curious about the production schedule. Is production ramping up on the 787 line or does production stay low until flight testing is near the end. I would think that the design should be validated before creating too many models in case rework is required.

  21. marvin December 18, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    Sorry Engineer, but I completely disagree with most of these statements.

    It is a common misconception that composites do not suffer from fatigue. Arguably it is not as nasty as for instance aluminium, but at least aluminum we understand. On the long term behavior of fiber composites in general there is very little data. Just look at the wind turbines and how many recalls there have been on glass fiber and carbon fiber blades recently, due to aging problems.

    Another problem is the absence of standardisation. If I buy a 6061 T6 aluminum, (barring a serious mistake), I know exactly what I am getting. For composites it depends on the manufacturer, the weave and filling they use, the magical ingredient X they add to the mix, and even the quy or girl who is laying the laminate. In short I have to place stringent quality control on my supplier and qualify my material myself, because all the stuff that has been written in literature does not necessarely apply to the material my supplier is giving me.

    I cannot judge from a few vid’s what the construction and stress distribution in this wing looks like. If I could I would be rich.

    But I cannot also simply say: these boeing people are smart guys so they should know what they are doing, because even for smart guys this is difficult territory, and they already got it wrong twice (wingbox, and wingbox stringer connection).

  22. AirShowFan December 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm #

    “The 787 flight was empty”? Far from it! The configuration used in most tests have the wing tanks holding tens of thousands of pounds each. The airplane in these pictures had almost 10 hours’ worth of fuel on board.

  23. John in CA December 19, 2009 at 8:33 am #

    Sorry Marvin….but I’m going to have to side with Engineer on this one….

    The industry has a lot more data than you think….composites have been flying on aircraft for 30 years or more….like spoilers, engine cowlings, wing to body fairings to mention a few….How long has the F117 and B2 been in service?

    True…to some extent, composites due suffer from fatigue…but the failure mechanism is different than metal…one advantage is that it’s typically not a catostrophic failure like metal…but then again, delamination does not show up as easy….

    I wouldn’t exactly consider wind turbin blades to be a good example….most of those are done in oven layups…and autoclave cure would give you a part with much better density and more strength.

    The flex is there for a reason….want to know why? Fly a reginal jet with one of those stiff wings and you will understand….

    And as I pointed out before, it’s curving up and back for a reason….just another variation of a winglet.

  24. Charles Margerison December 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm #

    Dreamliner – what a take off and great pictures – but who is Boeing? Decided to look up the guy that started it all and found some important info on him – for reference –

  25. Andreas December 20, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    The airplane in these pictures had almost 10 hours’ worth of fuel on board…

    How do you know? Did Boeing publish the TOW of the first flight?

    Best regards from Germany

  26. marvin December 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Hi John,

    I agree with you that if this would be an aluminum structure I would be much more scared to see so much flex, than with composites, since composites are much more forgiving by nature.

    However when you talk about composites flying for decades you also have to be aware how many problems they have and are still giving. These problems are seldom catastropic so they don’t make headlines (and rightfully so, since these are inspection and maintenance issues, no need to get the “flying coffin” crowd out).

    But look at the Raptor program, where delamination of the longerons is said to be a serious problem. Same goes for the rotorblades of Robinson helicopters. Also Airbus have had their fair share of problems on the A320. The F117 is also rumored to have a few problems of its own, contributing to its retirement.

    Anyway, let’s jus say Boeing has done something new here, and with doing something new inevetably comes some risks. But on the other hand not doing it doesn’t get you anyware.

    And yes I have been racking up a lot of hours on regional jets in all kinds of wheather in the past years so despite being an absolute n00b when it comes to aerodynamics I can understand the benefits.

  27. Concerned Flyer December 21, 2009 at 8:51 am #

    If the wings contained that much fuel, and I cannot dispute you on this then the wing bending is even more interesting.
    Wings full of fuel generate inertial relief and therefore counteract bending.
    My “empty” statement concerned the fuselage.
    A fully laden fuselage would certainly increase bending as the wings have to lift it.

  28. Concerned Flyer December 21, 2009 at 11:07 am #

    “like spoilers, engine cowlings, wing to body fairings to mention a few….”

    Every example you have given is secondary structure,ie not primary load bearing structure.

    Composites structure is certainly not more forgiving than aluminum when failing, there is usually no visual indication that composite structure is failing unlike aluminum.
    Aluminum structure has a large differential between start of failure (limit load) and total failure (ultimate load) this allows for a far greater chance of detection prior to total failure.
    When composites fail it is usually a very dramatic instant failure.
    Boeing as well as Airbus still have great strides to be made in the detection of these failures.
    The other major problem with composites is its ability to take on moisture. This is why composite primary structure will never be lighter than its equivalent aluminum structure.
    The strength allowables that the FAA will allow on composites design is extremely low to account for moisture ingress.

    I am sure that these problems will be sorted out but they certainly are not solved currently and I do not see them being resolved for probably another 10-20 years.

  29. AirShowFan December 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    How do I know that the airplane was carrying so much fuel during First Flight?

    Aviation Week reported that the takeoff weight was around 390,000 lbs, and Jon later wrote this as well. (AvWeek also said that the max landing weight is around 380,000 lbs, so it makes sense that the takeoff weight was just above that, so the airplane could land quickly if something went wrong):

    Wikipedia says that the empty weight is 242,000 lbs. That means someting like 150,000 lbs of fuel were on board, roughly.

    (This is all back of the envelope, so bear with me, despite the less-than-reliable sources and the handwaving away of other unaccounted-for factors that impact these weights).

    Wikipedia lists a range of 8,200 NM and cruise between 487-510 KT for the 787-8. This means endurance is somewhere around 16.4 hours, give or take.

    Wikipedia says Jet A weighs .8075 kg per m3, so those 150,000 lbs work out to 22,250 Gal.

    Wikipedia says that max fuel load on the 787-8 is 33,500 gal. So 22 kGal over 33 kGal, times 16h, gives more than 10h, “ish” ;]

  30. Thomas Strome February 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    In reference to all the discussion about wing flex in the 787….First of all, is there not a material difference in the wing when compared to all airplanes that came before ? Composite right ? Do you expect different materials to behave identically ? If you think about it, the additional flex will most likely smooth out a lot of turbulence that may have otherwise caused you to involuntarily redestribute your breakfast (the one you ate before coming to the airport) about the cabin in a haphazard and decidedly unauthorized manner.
    When one studies the structure on the 787, they may come to the conclusion that fifty or sixty years from now, when the wrecking bar is dropped on the 787, it may bounce. Tougher than nails !

  31. Cricut October 2, 2010 at 8:59 pm #

    I really don’t understand what folks see in her. Do away with the special effects and make up there isn’t anything left.