Sixteen months after its first February 2010 first flight, the first 747-8F, RC501, has completed its Boeing testing responsibilities and ferried from San Bernardino, California to the company's Global Service & Support facility at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas earlier today. RC501 will enter refurbishment along side RC503 and 787 ZA177 for Japan Airlines. Both RC501 and RC503 will be delivered to launch customer Cargolux "later this summer".
The lead test flight 747-8F flew for more than 1,000h during its time with Boeing Test & Evaluation, including initial airworthiness and stability and control trials, flutter, velocity minimum unstick and max brake energy tests. RC501 was also the guinea pig for the rest of the fleet, first discovering and troubleshooting issues that have challenged the type's development program such as the landing gear door/flaps 30 buffet, inboard aileron power control unit issue and wingtip flutter oscillation.
In other 747-8 news, RC522, the third test aircraft, will make its first air show visit later this month to Paris along side 787 ZA001 and 747-8I RC001, and will continue on to Luxembourg to visit Cargolux on June 23.
RC523, the fifth -8F aircraft, remains an active asset continuing 747-8 systems functionality and reliability (F&R) testing on 8-12 hour missions around the United States since June 1.
Also, who could forget the Flight International cover shot RC501 provided?