Last week in Everett, two factory fresh Rolls-Royce engines showed up ready to be hung under the wings of 787 Airplane Nine (ZA102/N6066Z). Boeing confirmed the arrival and installation of Trent 1000 serial numbers 10039 and 10037. The installation makes Airplane Nine the first production 787 to receive its engines.
The August 2 uncontained failure of one of the engine originally intended for Airplane Nine sidelined that unit and damaged the test facility, prompting an approximately three to four week slide in delivery of the powerplants to Boeing.
This delay, says Boeing, coupled with the inspections and rework of the horizontal stabilizer, which Boeing expected would push the schedule "a few weeks" into 2011 adds up to first delivery in mid-February as announced on August 27.
While Boeing's plan to use two additional aircraft for ETOPS and functionality and reliability (F&R) testing due to production differences is not new, however Boeing's use of Airplanes Eight (ZA101) and Nine is.
According to an April 2009 flight test briefing, the airframer initially planned to use Airplanes Seven and Eight for "follow on testing" on "structural and electrical changes that will need some certification" to "support the airworthiness certificate on the delivered airplanes." Additionally, those aircraft will be used for production nautical air miles (NAMS) testing to establish the baseline for the fuel economy of the 787 at production weights and configurations.
While Airplane Nine will take part in the flying portion of the ETOPS and F&R testing, Airplane Eight will be used for ground tests. The switch from Airplanes Seven (ZA100) and Eight to Airplanes Eight and Nine, say production sources, is said to be driven by the cannibalization of Airplane Seven of parts to support flight test aircraft.
UPDATE 10:49 AM PT: Boeing confirms that the engines that will power Airplane Nine are Package A standard.