Boeing says its first South Carolina-built 787-8 performed "exactly as we expected" during its 5h initial flight on 23 May, nearly four weeks after the aircraft was rolled out of the new final assembly line in North Charleston on 27 April. Airplane 46 is one of four 787s to be completed at the factory this year, all destined for Air India.

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Pilots of the GEnx-1B-powered widebody, slated to be delivered to Air India as early as June, performed most of the production flight test along a north-south path over the Atlantic Ocean to the east of Charleston, between North Carolina and Florida. Total distance covered during the flight was 1,764nm (3,267km), according to tracking site

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"Today's production flight test profile tested the airplane's controls and systems in a series of scenarios designed to verify the airplane operates as designed," says Boeing. "The tests occurred in all stages of flight beginning prior to taxi, through final landing and taxi." Included in the tests were cabin pressurisation checks, avionics, navigation and communications checks and shut-down and restart of each of the two GEnx-1B engines.

As seen on live video coverage of the event, Airplane 46 first performed a high-speed rejected takeoff before lining up for a normal takeoff at 12:01. Tracking data on the FlightAware website shows that the pilots then performed roughly 3h of high altitude air work up to 41,000ft (12,497m), slightly below the 787-8's maximum operating altitude of 43,100ft.

The aircraft then descended to 15,000ft for roughly 1h of testing that appeared to include slow flight and possibly an aerodynamic stall, based on FlightAware tracking data. The pilots then returned to the Charleston International airport for approximately 1h of touch-and-go circuits.

It is unclear whether additional flights will be required before the aircraft is flown to Leading Edge Aviation Services in Fort Worth, Texas for painting in Air India livery.

Once airline acceptance flights are complete, Boeing expects to deliver the Charleston-build aircraft to Air India in June or July. The carrier's first 787, built at Boeing's Everett, Washington facility, will arrive by the end of May. Air India has orders for 27 787-8s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news