Boeing is finalising the last elements of the 787's certification programme as it targets a year-end first delivery, but will not be required to run a cabin evacuation trial demonstration.

Because of the cabin's similarity in configuration and size to its predecessor, the 767, Boeing is able to qualify 787-8's exit limit maximum (*) through analysis, says the twinjet programme's vice-president and general manger Scott Fancher. "As long as you can show equivalency based on the number and size of doors, number of seats, pitch of seats, you can do it by analysis of data from the 767."

Fancher says that some elements of the evacuation system will need to be demonstrated for certification, such as slide deployment, and proper door, lighting and annunciation operation.

Another element of the certification effort that is fast approaching is the service-ready operation validation tests, or route-proving. "This is part of the certification process demonstrating that the airplane is capable of supporting revenue service and will be flown towards the end of the flight-test programme," says Fancher.

Different tests are required to validate different aspects of the aircraft's operation. "Some can be done simply by racking up hours on multiple airplanes, others might require passengers and others have to be done on a fixed aircraft within a specific period of time," says Fancher.

"There will be certain routes that we'll fly, and we'll also deploy an aircraft to Japan in conjunction with launch customer All Nippon Airways. Because the aircraft has not been certificated, it will only be flown by Boeing crews."

Boeing has four Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered 787s in the flight-test programme, including one with a partially furnished passenger cabin - ZA003 which visited Farnborough. The first of two General Electric GEnx-powered 787s is also now in flight-test, with the second due to join the programme in August, says Fancher. Certification of the GE-powered version will follow "around two to three months" after the R-R version, which is due in the fourth quarter of this year. "The timing will be decided by the first delivery of a GE-powered aircraft to a customer and the delivery needs of that customer."

Boeing has yet to formally identify the first GEnx 787 customer, although industry sources indicate it will be either Royal Air Maroc or Japan Airlines.

  • CORRECTION: The original data provided by Boeing in this story for the 787's exit limit maximum seating of 250 was incorrect. The correct data will be published once Boeing has advised.

Source: Flight International