The Boeing 787 is finally making swift progress towards its maiden sortie with several key milestones being passed that clear the way for it to fly by the end of June.

Boeing's prototype 787 (ZA001) saw the light of day on 3 May, when the aircraft was officially moved to the Everett flightline's fuel dock for fuel quantity system verification, ahead of the first starts of its Hamilton Sundstrand APS 5000 auxiliary power unit and Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

This appearance marked the end of almost two years of factory seclusion for the prototype after the ceremonial roll-out on 8 July 2007 that preceded the programme's rash of part shortages, production problems and design changes.

In recent weeks ZA001 has completed a closed-loop simulation of the first flight with chief project pilot Mike Carriker at the controls. The 20 April "factory gauntlet" was completed faster than planned, as the aircraft moved into final gear swing tests.

Boeing 787 fuel test
 © Boeing

In these trials, Boeing experienced a glitch on 25 April when switching power sources from ground to internal mid-swing, causing the aircraft systems to shut down. Boeing quickly restored power and returned the gear to the down position.

The airframer has opted to carry out the final testing while on the flightline to ensure this condition of functionality is satisfied ahead of first flight. The second aircraft, ZA002, completed ground vibration testing on 1 May, another key prerequisite for the first flight.

The aircraft, having completed early validation of the flutter stability of the wing, will now remain in the paint hangar until mid-month before returning to the factory for final preparations before joining ZA001 on the flightline.

Source: Flight International