“The schedule is achievable, but aggressive,” says Lund, who inherited control of the 747-8 program following the ousting of Mohammed ‘Mo’ Yahyavi in August 2010. Pat Shanahan, serves in a dual role as 747-8 general manager, while overseeing airplane programs as vice president.
Delays on the 747-8F have stretched more than two years, with entry into service originally intended for late 2009. Manufacturing woes and flight test discoveries buckled the new freighter’s schedule, as Boeing was enduring years of delays on its flagship 787, originally planned for a May 2008 first delivery.
The 747-8I, was originally slated for a 2010 first delivery, slipped as collateral damage of freighter delays, though Boeing’s most recent 747-8F delay in September, held the 747-8I schedule in place for late 2011 handover to a Boeing Business Jet completion centre.
“If we have a major discovery it’s always a risk in a development program, but given what we know and the learnings we’ve taken from the Freighter and what we’ve put into this program, we believe this is a schedule we can meet.
“Many of the tests we are doing on our freighter will also give us [certification] credit on the Intercontinental. We don’t have to test everything from scratch,” says Lund.
Already completed on the 747-8F and not required on the -8I, include the flight loads survey, artificial ice shapes testing, water spray and community noise testing, which validated that the 747-8 has a noise footprint 30% smaller than the 747-400, coming in “quieter than we even designed,” says Lund.
With 747-8F and 787 flight test programs ramping down “the size of test teams required for those airplanes decreases and we are able to redeploy test personnel to the 747-8I airplanes,” says Boeing.
Boeing currently has 22 full-time engineering test pilots and an additional six under contract supporting commercial airplanes test programs, with a further 18 production test pilots who can assist with experimental flight test operations. Boeing has a total of 116 test pilots across its Test & Evaluation unit.
Boeing already has five 747-8F aircraft in its test fleet, along with seven 787s, potentially growing to as many as nine to support systems functionality and reliability testing.
RC001, a future Kuwaiti government aircraft, and the first of two 747-8I dedicated test aircraft, is fully instrumented and designed for flutter clearance, flight controls, ride quality, and stability and control evaluations. While RC021, which will eventually be delivered to launch customer Lufthansa, will handle much of the interiors testing of the galleys, lavatories, smoke penetration and environmental control system.
A non-instrumented third aircraft will perform electromagnetic interference testing, along with lighting and in-flight entertainment validations, while a fourth aircraft may be used for additional interiors testing, or serve as a backup if other test aircraft are in planned maintenance.
Having achieved power on in November 2010, followed by factory completion in January, Mark Feuerstein, chief 747 pilot says of RC001, “I’m a expecting a finished, tight, ready airplane to fly.”
The first is the incorporation of the ouboard aileron modal suppression (OAMS) system to dampen out a 2.3-2.4Hz vibration in the wing that resulted in a deflection of ±1in (2.5cm). The vibration – or more accurately known as a limit cycle oscillation (LCO) – is virtually “imperceptible to human beings”, says Feuerstein.
Zarfos says the issues were traced to pressure spikes in the hydraulic lines and he adds that engineering teams are “now in the process of correlating” the actuator underperformance and the hydraulic pressures.
Zarfos says he is “very confident” in the technical solutions to show FAA compliance, but altering the installation as the result of a kinematic evaluation of the lateral movement and wing structural dynamics.