Boeing has completed analysis of 787 side-of-body reinforcement, as well as its final gauntlet testing, clearing the way for the final few steps towards the aircraft's long-delayed maiden sortie.

After ten days of analysis on data collected on its static test airframe, Boeing 787 programme vice president and general manager Scott Fancher says: "I am happy to report that the program has validated the airplane structure for the 787 Dreamliner."

Boeing announced on 23 June that it had to reinforce the side-of-body of the 787 due to delamination on the upper stringers of the wingbox and centre wingbox panels experienced on static tests.

Fancher says that the static test airframe was subjected to limit load forces, or 100% of the loads the aircraft will ever expect to see in service. Boeing says analysis on the wing and trailing edge limit load testing will be completed before conducting ultimate load testing next year, which is required for US Federal Aviation Administration certification.

Programme sources say the ultimate load testing, the application of 150% of the loads the aircraft will ever see in flight, will be conducted next spring.

Fancher adds that the first test aircraft, ZA001, has successfully completed two days worth of final gauntlet tests to validate software improvements by conducting simulated rehearsals of first flight.

Boeing says that three 787 test aircraft, along with the static test airframe, have now completed side-of-body modification.

The company will now move into final flight readiness reviews, receipt of the experimental test certificate from the FAA and high-speed taxi tests.

Those final reviews and taxi tests are slated to begin on 12 December, programme sources say. Boeing emphasises that both taxi tests and first flight are dependent on the weather.

Boeing 787

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news