EVERETT -- In no uncertain terms, the push to 787 first flight is on.
When ZA001 was handed over to the flight test team two weeks ago prior to factory gauntlet testing, Boeing changed its
internal classification of the first 787 from 'production status'
The reclassification doesn't change much for Dreamliner One, but represents the quickening pace and its rapidly approaching maiden flight.
ZA001 is still tucked away
in Paint Hangar 45-03
, where it has resided since 4:30 AM PT on Monday, across from the world's largest building by volume. Inside, Dreamliner One sits painted in the shades of company blue, standing out prominently against the sterile white and gray metals that define the paint hangar.
Her skin, even after being touched up, shows signs
of the punishing structural rework and systems installation that defined the aircraft's almost two years in final assembly that began in May 2007.
While in the paint hangar, ZA001 underwent a comprehensive aqueous wash of its three main fuel tanks. Each tank is split into two sections. For the left and right wing tanks, a forward and aft compartment and right and left compartments for the center tank, giving the 787-8 the ability to carry 33,528 US gallons of Jet A. The aqueous wash removes any debris or residue that could contaminate the fuel system.
With the aqueous wash complete, Boeing is going wingtip-to-wingtip sealing up the fuel tanks with oval shaped closeout doors.
Crews are also going nose-to-tail installing the last of the bright red flight test wiring, as well as final instrumentation and sensors. Many of the aircraft's access panels and doors are open or removed and the flaps and slats are in the fully extended position for this task.
ZA001 is little more than 24-hours away from leaving its temporary home in the paint hangar.
Scott Baumeier, delivery operations leader for the 787 program, says that ZA001 will leave the paint hangar for a trip to the fuel dock Saturday morning.
The F-4 and F-5 fuel docks, just 100-yards away from the paint hangar, will host the next phase of ZA001's march to first flight. Dreamliner One's fuel quantity and gauging system
will be calibrated and the loading sequence will be conducted for the first time using the fueling control panel on the underside of the left wing.
Once the aircraft is fueled, ZA001 will start its Hamilton Sundstrand APS 5000
auxiliary power unit and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000
engines for the first time, demonstrating the integrated functionality of the aircraft's power distribution systems as part of the intermediate gauntlet.
The final gauntlet, which will run eight days, is a continuation of the closed-loop ground testing that will put ZA001 through single and multiple failures, injecting faults and demonstrating the second and third-tier protections in the airplane.
Throughout this process, Boeing will continue to work on the aircraft hand-in-hand with engineering tests and required production work to bring the aircraft in full conformity to the design while on the flight line. Once full conformity is met, the FAA will grant an Experimental Flight Certificate to ZA001, a milestone that 787 chief project engineer, Mike Delaney says will take place between three and 10 days before first flight.
After the final gauntlet is completed, ZA001 will begin taxi testing at both low and high speeds to check out the electric braking system and flight control surface effectiveness.
Once Dreamliner One is taxiing under its own power, its maiden flight will be just days away.