Boeing picks up awards for record-breaking 787 flight

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Boeing has been presented with twin official records for the 787's December 2011 attempt to break the longest flight for an aircraft in its weight class and establishing an around-the-world speed record.

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) on 28 February presented Boeing with two certificates confirming its record flights.

ZA006, Boeing's sixth 787 flight test aircraft, fitted with General Electric GEnx-1B engines, departed Boeing Field, Seattle, US, on 6 December 2011 en route for Dhaka, Bangladesh, weighing 212t (467,375lb), including 103t of fuel, the volumetric shut-off limit for the aircraft.

Rod Skaar, assistant chief production pilot for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, called the flight "delightfully" boring, as was intended. "You don't want any excitement, you don't want any adventure, you don't want any drama," he said.

After flying 10,710nm (19,814km), ZA006 landed in Dhaka with 13.6t of fuel remaining. Boeing officially received credit from the NAA for 10,336nm flown. The distance record for the 200-250t weight class was held by an Airbus A330 that flew 9,127nm in 2002.

After 200 people toured the new twinjet during a 1h 52min refuelling stop on the ground in the Bangladeshi capital, the 787 departed Dhaka heading eastbound, having taken on 86t of fuel for the second leg of the journey.

The 787's lateral and vertical navigation modes (LNAV and VNAV) were used to fly the overwhelming majority of the record-breaking flights, said Mike Carriker, chief pilot for Boeing product development.

As NAA rules prohibit cutting a waypoint corner short, as the LNAV function is designed to do to optimise routing, the 787 was required to switch to heading select mode, overflying predetermined turn points in New York, Luxor, Egypt, and southern India before proceeding on course.

On its return leg to Seattle, the 787 landed with 9.08t of fuel remaining, even after accelerating the Dreamliner to Mach 0.88 for the final 6h of the flight. The global circumnavigation lasted 42h 26min.

Six pilots, on rotating 4h shifts throughout the flight, were among 13 people on board ZA006, including two NAA observers.