Boeing has restructured its plans for 787 first flight with significant changes in the intermediate and final gauntlet testing.

Scott Fancher, general manager and vice president of the 787 programme, said 21 May at Boeing's annual investor conference:

"In about two weeks, we'll run into what we refer to as the intermediate gauntlet test, similar to the factory gauntlet tests, but much, much more robust."

Fancher explains Boeing will "operate the aircraft on engines seven days, 24/7, with aircrew on the flight deck simulating ground and flight environments, not just nominal flight profiles but a wide range of off-nominals as well, demonstrating the full robustness and gaining confidence in the robustness of the aircraft. From there, we'll go into preflight checks, taxi tests, then into first flight".

Fancher adds that the intermediate gauntlet tests will come sooner than originally planned, saying the original expectation was to run the test just before first flight.

"We've actually pulled that to the left, because quite frankly the systems are mature and ready to take it earlier from where we originally planned," says Fancher.

Boeing originally planned an eight-day final gauntlet ahead of preflight checks, but now says that, "Some of the final gauntlet testing has been moved into intermediate gauntlet tests to help retire risk earlier by getting through those test sequences."

The company declined to specify the revised duration of the final gauntlet, saying only that "it will be much shorter".

Boeing continues to reaffirm that 787 first flight will happen by the close of the second quarter.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news