Boeing 747-400LCF Dreamlifter closes in on certification after delays, with prototype flying to Edwards AFB

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Boeing's first 747LCF Dreamlifter large cargo aircraft has flown to Edwards AFB, California, marking the closing phases of its test and certification phase before the start of full-time subassembly delivery flights for the 787 production line.

The aircraft, RT876, arrived from Seattle on 6 February for an expected week-long campaign. Boeing says "the team will be evaluating things like take-off performance, abused take-offs [abuse of the speed schedule], stall speeds and characteristics". Although the work is part of the baseline certification test programme, it is being conducted several weeks later than originally expected due to a number of hold-ups, including the vibration issues that led to the permanent removal of the winglets.

The additional performance tests are required because of the external modifications to the LCF, in particular the "brow" fairing connecting the Section 41 to the enlarged "bonnets" running the length of the fuselage. In addition, the testing will evaluate the effects of the enlarged fin tip, which was extended by 1.5m (5ft) for improved directional stability. Testing includes Vmcg (ground minimum control speed), trimmed and mis-trimmed take-off characteristics.

The second LCF (RT632) was due to arrive in Seattle in a new white-and-blue livery by early January, but has yet to make its first flight, adding pressure to the already compressed schedule.

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The Dreamlifter has flown to Edwards for final tests