787 fatigue testing advances

Washington DC
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Boeing is preparing for 787 fatigue testing in mid 2010 as the manufacturer aims to certify the aircraft ahead of first customer deliveries late in the fourth quarter.

The company moved the fatigue test airframe to its structural test rig on 31 January.

Setup for fatigue testing is underway and should take several months, a Boeing spokeswoman says.

During fatigue testing, simulated multiple life cycles will be flown to determine how the aircraft handles fatigue. Boeing will continue testing after the company delivers its first 787 to All Nippon Airways (ANA) later this year.

As Boeing readies for fatigue testing, static testing on another airframe continues, and is scheduled for completion probably in mid 2010, Boeing's spokeswoman says. She notes that Boeing has not yet run ultimate load testing - the application of 150% of the loads the aircraft would ever expect to see in service.

Both fatigue and static testing are required for aircraft certification.

"Unlike static tests, where loads are applied to the aircraft structure to simulate both normal operation and extreme flight conditions, fatigue testing is a much longer process that simulates up to three times the number of flight cycles an airplane is likely to experience during a lifetime of service. This testing is instrumental in confirming the longevity of the airplane," vice president and general manager of the 787 programme Scott Fancher says in a statement.