Boeing targets 787 fatigue test buffer over lead aircraft

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Boeing is about to start the 787's fatigue trials as it sets out to accumulate the required testing buffer ahead of the carbonfibre twinjet's planned service entry at year-end.

The Dreamliner test airframe (ZY998) was moved from the Everett factory to the outdoor test fixture on 31 January and has subsequently been undergoing preparations for the fatigue trials. Over three years ZY998 will be used to demonstrate 165,000 flight cycles to prove the durability of the structure, well beyond the certification target of 88,000 cycles, which is double the airframe's design life.

These full-scale fatigue trials, which had been due to begin by mid-year, should get started "soon", says Boeing's vice-president of supplier management Bob Noble. He adds that the fatigue test specimen needs to lead the high-cycle in-service aircraft by a significant margin.

Boeing has already completed static and fatigue trials on certain sections of the aircraft individually, for example the horizontal stabiliser (which ZY998 does not have).

Launch customer All Nippon Airways should take its first 787-8 by year-end, following completion of the test and certification effort.