Boeing completes 747-8I certification flight testing (Update3)

BBJ Boeing 747-8I N6067E RC001

Boeing has completed certification flight testing on its 747-8 Intercontinental test fleet, the company confirms, setting the jumbo on a path to US Federal Aviation Administration approval later this quarter.

After flying from Barbados to Houston today, the aircraft marked the completion of its systems functionality and reliability (F&R) flight testing, the final phase of its evaluations. RC003, flying as BOE440, signifying the 1440th 747 built, is currently enroute to Paine Field. The aircraft was non-instrumented for the trials.

The airframer quietly announced in its 10Q US Securities and Exchange Commission last week that the first delivery of a VIP configured “green” 747-8I would slip to 2012, citing “a delay in flight testing and the time required to incorporate all flight test driven changes.”

While flying for FAA certification credit is complete, the test fleet of three aircraft will continue post-certification testing and additional validation of the VIP and airline interiors.

Further, with the completion of extended operations (ETOPS) and F&R trials, the 747-8I becomes the first four-engine passenger aircraft to complete ETOPS evaluations. ETOPS rules were updated in 2007 to include four-engine aircraft starting in 2015, though Boeing opted to include it in the Intercontinental’s certification ahead of the requirement.

UPDATE: Boeing clarified the status of ETOPS certification for the 747-8I, saying that because it was not required by the initial FAA requirements it was not completed as part of the certification trials that wrapped up on October 31. Continued flying of the test fleet will include completion of the ETOPS validation on the 747-8I in the coming days, says Boeing.
Because of overlapping certification efforts, the -8F will also be certified under ETOPS rules. The freighter did not undergo ETOPS testing because its customers did not require it for its shorter missions.

Boeing began the 747-8I’s flight test campaign on March 20 with RC001‘s first flight from Paine Field.

Delivery to Lufthansa, whose RC021 served as test aircraft, will eventually become D-ABYE, is expected in the first quarter of 2012.