- Boeing officially sets December 15 at 10 AM PT (1800 GMT) for first flight.
- 787 granted experimental airworthiness certificate by the FAA
- High-Speed taxi tests are complete
Boeing's busy day on the ground kicked off at 6:30 AM with a flight readiness review that finalized receipt of the Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA. This regulatory clearance now puts the 787, with clearance to operate Part 91 operations, the same regulatory category as aircraft like the Cessna 172. Once the Experimental Airworthiness Certificate had been obtained, the aircraft was cleared for final taxi tests.
By ten minutes past eight in the morning, chief pilot Mike Carriker and engineering pilot Randy Neville had boarded ZA001 along with a handful of flight engineers closely monitoring telemetry stations inside the aircraft's cabin. The air stairs were pulled back and the chocks removed, Carriker and Neville were ready to power on ZA001 for its first taxi tests in six months.
From an observers point of view from the Stratodeck of the Future of Flight across the runway, 2,200 feet away from Stall 105, the aircraft did a simultaneous smoky start on both Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, with the temperature hovering around 26F.
By quarter past eight, ZA001, operating as Boeing 001 Experimental, had taxiied out of Stall 105 for the threshold of runway 16R, about 850 feet from where we were standing. ZA001 began slowly reaching a speed of about 30 knots on its first run from north to south. The aircraft then traveled north again on taxiway A before stopping in front of an assembled crowd of fluorescent yellow and orange jacketed test staff.
The twin engines were shut down and the aircraft was towed a short way along A where fans had been pre-positioned to cool the brakes of the 787. ZA001 actually has electric brakes from two different suppliers. Messier-Bugatti on one side of the main landing gear and Goodrich on the other. All the other test aircraft, as well as all the production aircraft, will feature one supplier or the other. While resting on the taxiway, the Dreamlifter departed for Japan, accelerating past ZA001 which once resided inside its massive cargo hold.
After about an hour of holding on the taxiway, ZA001 rolled north again to runway 16R for a second run to the south at 9:22 AM. The aircraft immediately turned around at the south end of the field and began its third run on runway 34L at 9:33 AM. Each of the first three runs were done without thrust reversers. After virtually each run, runway sweepers were deployed to remove any possible debris from the runway that could damage the 787.
Taxi test number four began around 10:35 AM after another hour break on A for brake cooling. After taxiing south again, this test on runway 32L used both brakes and thrust reversers to slow the aircraft. Another hour passed for brake cooling, and at 11:41 AM, started run five to the north was immediately followed by a turn on the active runway followed by run six, five minutes later.
ZA001 cooled its brakes again and prepared for run seven, the aircraft's first rotation. The aircraft traveling north to south spooled its Trent 1000 engines and headed south at 12:45 PM on the 9010-foot grooved asphalt runway. After little more than 2,000 feet of acceleration, Carriker activated the spoilers, dumping the lift off the quickly rising composite wings. Less than 1000 feet and three second later, the nose landing gear departed runway 16R, the first time any part of the 787 has left the ground. After a six second trip airborne, the nose landing gear returned to the pavement.
The aircraft continued to slow and turned north on taxiway A for a 50-minute cooling of the brakes. Carriker held short of runway 16R, allowing a GOL 737-800 to perform a touch-and-go. After the 737 was clear, ZA001 began a slow taxi on runway 16R before making the trip south again to repeat the rotation test facing in the other direction.
On the eighth and final run at 1:45 PM, about five-and-a-half hours after the taxi tests began, Carriker lifted the nose wheel again. The 787's nose landing gear to hung off the ground for another 2,000 feet before gently returning it to runway 16, marking the completion of the ground-based milestones before first flight.
Photo Credit Boeing