Boeing says that the first four 787s - all of which are Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered - will undertake the bulk of the aircraft's flight-test and certification programme. The two General Electric GEnx test aircraft will be involved to a lesser extent, to complete the programme for that version of the twinjet.
Two 787s are currently on the assembly line in Everett - the first flight-test 787, which was rolled out on 8 July - and the non-flying static test aircraft.
Ship one is due to fly in "mid-November to mid-December". Following on from that, "we're going to add an aircraft to the flight-test programme every two to three weeks", says vice-president and general manager for 787 Mike Bair.
Boeing has revised the production plan for the third and fourth 787s in an effort to reduce the amount of "travelled assembly work" being undertaken at Everett that should have been completed at partner sites before shippment of sections. This has dogged the assembly effort on 787 number one, prompting Boeing to resequence the build of the second flight-test aircraft and the fatigue-test airframe.
"This will mean the third aircraft in final assembly will now be the fatigue-test aircraft," says Bair, adding that sections for the second flight-test aircraft will now arrive at Everett in October, by which time the two ground-test airframes will completed.
The swap-around will enable the partners to "complete their systems wiring and other installation on flight-test aircraft two before shipping their sections to Everett", says Bair. "Taking these steps now to reduce travelled work will enable us to more quickly get a lean and efficient production system up and running to support our delivery commitments," says Bair.