By Guy Norris in Charleston, Grottaglie & Nagoya

Six aircraft earmarked to be put through their paces

Boeing has revealed its certification flight- and ground-test plans for the 787, which will include six aircraft, four for the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered version and two for the General Electric GEnx-70B1 variant.

The first aircraft off the Everett line will be the flying prototype, with the second destined for duties as the static-test airframe. The third will be the second R-R-powered aircraft, and the fourth will be designated as the fatigue-test aircraft. The subsequent four aircraft will be allocated to flight testing, with two to be R-R and two GE-powered.

Flight tests of the 787 are due to start in late August 2007, with first flight of the GE-powered aircraft expected around November 2007. The gap between the two engine variants is shorter than usual for a Boeing certification programme because of the commonality between the systems and the modular design of the airframe-engine interface, says 787 vice-president of aircraft development Scott Strode.

The sophisticated ground tests of the aircraft systems in new facilities such as the integrated test vehicle – a combined iron bird, power systems and avionics test laboratory – are also expected to reduce flight-test requirements, Strode adds.

Joint-venture 787 production partners Alenia Aeronautica and Vought, meanwhile, are gearing up to begin assembly at plants in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as Grottaglie and other sites in Italy.

The two companies between them will assemble the bulk of the 787 fuselage, most of which will be integrated by the joint venture company Global Aeronautica, before delivery by Boeing 747LCF (large cargo freighter) to the Everett final assembly site.

787 Autoclave Mark Wagner
© Mark Wagner / 

A huge autoclave for 787 production is being completed at Vought

Parts of the airframe from Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries will also be flown by LCF from Japan to Charleston. Global Aeronautica’s site is due to begin deliveries to Everett in the second quarter of 2007, while Vought is expected to complete the first set of Section 47/48 fuselage sections in the first quarter of the year.

The Sections 47/48 will be assembled and “pre-stuffed” with systems along one side of the new site, while the centre fuselage parts from Alenia and Japan will be mated in three lines alongside the new building. Vought is nearing completion of the massive autoclave that will be used to cure the 7.3m (24ft)-long, all-composite Section 47 and 4.3m-long Section 48.

Source: Flight International