The US FAA has granted Boeing expanded type inspection authorisation (TIA) for its 747-8F flight test programme, clearing the way for regulatory personnel to join flight test activities.
The expanded TIA, which was granted on 11 June, represents a significant milestone for the new jumbo freighter's certification campaign as it moves toward a year-end delivery to Cargolux.
The authorisation was granted following the presentation of a conforming article to the FAA, representing the configuration Boeing seeks to certify with regulatory authorities.
"The airplane is performing well in the tests," says Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager for the 747 programme. "We have demonstrated the airplane's readiness to move onto the next stage in the flight-test programme through tests at a variety of speeds, altitudes and configurations," he adds.
Boeing will now take the 747-8F test fleet through the extremes of the flight envelope with cold and hot test conditions, as well as take offs and landing at high-altitude airports. Additionally, over-speed conditions, hard landings, minimum velocity tests and engine-out tests will be undertaken, says Boeing.
Boeing has flown three flight test aircraft to-date and a fourth is expected to join the programme late in June, say programme sources.
The three aircraft - RC501, RC521 and RC522 - are currently spread across different airports that include Boeing Field in Seattle, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California and Palmdale Regional Airport in Palmdale, California, respectively.
The company expects to accumulate 1,600h of flight and 2,100h of ground testing in the 747-8F certification programme. Boeing says it has completed 450h of testing on roughly 190 flights.