Boeing completes 787 flutter and ground effects testing

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Boeing has completed aeroelastic flutter testing and ground effects testing with its first two 787 test aircraft, clearing the way for kickoff of the formal US FAA certification campaign to support first delivery by yearend.

ZA001, Boeing's first 787 test aircraft, completed flutter testing on 19 March after 27 test days that began on 14 February and saw the aircraft reach a ceiling of 43,000ft while maintaining a cabin pressure of 6,000ft. Additionally, the aircraft reached M.97 in a dive as part of clearing the primarily carbon fibre structure of any potentially destructive vibration.

"The technical team has made an initial assessment of the data and we couldn't be more pleased with the performance of the 787. The damping was as predicted and the pilots report that the airplane responded as expected," says Boeing vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth.

Tinseth adds that the 787 test fleet is now cleared to fly throughout its full flight envelope.

Additionally, ZA002, Boeing's second 787 flight test aircraft, completed ground effects testing on 19 March at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California. The 787's first out-of-state trip saw 150 Boeing staff assisting in flight and ground tests to evaluate the handling characteristics of the aircraft in take off and landing phases of flight.

The aircraft is expected to return to Boeing Field in Seattle on 23 March, say programme sources.

ZA004, which returned to flight testing on 18 March, has been testing the latest "service-ready" V5.5 system software in preparation for presentation of a conforming article to the FAA for type inspection authorisation (TIA).

Additionally, ZA003, which first flew on 14 March has remained in post first flight layup at Boeing Field.

To date, the four aircraft have accumulated more than 360h of flight time since ZA001's 15 December first flight.

First delivery to Japan's All Nippon Airways is expected in the fourth quarter.