Few questions have dogged the 787-watchers more than the timing and location for the composite jetliner's cold soak testing. The question centered on the timing of first flight and ideal conditions in either the northernmost or southernmost parts of the world. Springtime is less than ideal for both ends of the Earth, as it's not cold enough in either to support certification conditions of -40F to -50F.
Though, that question has finally been answered, according to two program sources. In the not so distant future, ZA003 will depart Boeing Field for Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, site of its famous McKinley Climatic Laboratory. The hangar is capable of self-contained temperatures of -65F to +165F. The facility was recently used by Embraer for the newly-certified Phenom 100 and 300. I wouldn't worry too much about space constraints as the MCL has hosted aircraft as large as the C-5 Galaxy at the 55,000 sq ft (5,100 m2) facility.
Boeing declined to elaborate on its cold soak plans saying only:
We're not providing forward-looking information about flight test schedules or locations.Though program sources say the third 787 flight test aircraft (N787BX) could make its first cross country flight in search of the frigid Florida climate as early as Sunday, April 18th.