Boeing disperses 787 test fleet

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Boeing's 787 test fleet has fanned out from its home base in Seattle, Washington as the type pushes through certification toward its revised mid-first quarter 2011 first delivery to All Nippon Airways.

ZA001 recently completed runway takeoff and landing performance stability and control (S&C) evaluations at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, as well as wet runway trials at Roswell, New Mexico. ZA001 transitioned to southern California on 16 August and recently returned to Roswell on 2 September ahead of planned rejected take off testing. Testing at Edwards Air Force Base included velocity minimum unstick (Vmu) testing that saw the aircraft's tail scrape along the runway on takeoff roll to determine the minimum flying speed of the 787 at different configurations.

ZA002 is currently participating in the programme's first international remote testing in Keflavik, Iceland, where the aircraft is taking advantage of the airport's perpendicular runways, all equipped with instrument landing systems and historically high winds for crosswind handling characteristics. The aircraft arrived in Iceland on 1 September and flew its first round of S&C autoflight evaluations on 3 September with crosswind speeds of 28kts to 32kts.

"We've been watching for the right weather conditions for some time," says Scott Fancher, 787 programme vice president and general manager. "The team was happy to see the forecast in Iceland met our needs and we deployed to Keflavik earlier this week."

Boeing expects to certify the 787 for takeoffs and landings of up to 25kts of crosswind.

ZA003 has been undergoing hot weather trials since arriving in Yuma, Arizona on 28 August, with testing in conditions in excess 38C (100F). Boeing says the aircraft is expected to remain on remote testing for roughly seven more days.

ZA004 has spent nearly its entire time in the flight test programme based out of Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California. Since 7 July, the aircraft has been undergoing flight loads survey, comparing loads observed on the aircraft to those modelled during the aircraft's design while measuring "external pressure distributions throughout the flight envelope", says Boeing.

ZA004 is now expected to transition to Glasgow, Montana, says Boeing, for an unspecified next round of testing. Wokal Field in Glasgow traditionally has been the airframer's preferred site to host community noise evaluations to map the acoustic profile of its new aircraft.

ZA005, the first of two GEnx-1B powered 787s, has remained at Boeing Field for simulated ice shapes handling and stall characteristics mimicking worse-case-scenario ice build up on the leading edges of the aircraft's wings, horizontal and vertical stabilisers.

ZA006, Boeing's sixth 787 test aircraft has yet to fly, though was fuelled for the first time on 3 September at the company's Everett, Washington factory in preparation for first auxiliary power unit and engine runs prior to its first flight, which is expected late this month.

Boeing plans to add two more 787s to the flight test campaign, Airplanes Eight and Nine, both in the ANA production configurations. Airplane Eight will be used for ground testing, while Airplane Nine will take part in extended twin-engine operation testing and systems functionality and reliability evaluations.

Five 787 test aircraft have completed more than 1,650h of flight testing covering more than 540 flights. Boeing expects it will accumulate 3,100h of flight testing spread across its General Electric GEnx-1B and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered 787s.