Boeing commences three-year 787 fatigue trial

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Boeing has commenced a three year process of establishing the fatigue life of its primary composite structured 787, nearly three years after the test airframe began final assembly.

ZY998, which began assembly in November 2007 as the company's third 787 airframe, was moved from the assembly line in April 2008 to other areas around the company's Everett, Washington facility for continuing preparations and structural rework and reinforcement ahead of the gruelling set of 165,000 cycles for fatigue testing, well beyond the 88,000 required for certification.

Boeing moved the airframe from its temporary position in the factory to the outdoor test rig at the north end of the Everett campus in February. Upon its move to the test rig, following years of delays, Boeing had planned to begin its fatigue trials mid-year, but that target slipped to September without explanation.

The airframer has claimed the 787 will have 30% lower maintenance costs than comparable airframes, in large part due to the 50% composite material used in the aircraft's structure. Additionally, the widespread use of titanium, accounting for roughly 14% of the airframe material, withstands metallic corrosion better than aluminium over the aircraft's design life.