Boeing has completed certification flight testing on its 747-8 Intercontinental test fleet, setting the jumbo on a path to US Federal Aviation Administration approval later this quarter.
After flying from Barbados to Houston Intercontinental Airport, test aircraft RC003 marked the completion of its systems functionality and reliability (F&R) flight testing, the final phase of its evaluations.
RC003, painted in all-white colours for the test programme, was tasked with both F&R and Extended Operations (ETOPS) evaluations.
The airframer quietly announced in its 10Q US Securities and Exchange Commission filing on 27 October the first delivery of a VIP configured "green" 747-8I would slip to 2012, citing "a delay in flight testing and the time required to incorporate all flight test driven changes."
While flying for FAA certification credit is complete, the test fleet of three aircraft will continue post-certification testing and additional validation of the VIP and airline interiors.
The General Electric GEnx-2B-powered 747-8I will be the first in the Boeing fleet to be certified under ETOPS rules, which were revised in 2007 to include four-engined aircraft starting in 2015. Its certification will also cover the now-in service 747-8F, which did not require such a certification based on the stage length of its operations.
The three-aircraft test fleet began flying on 20 March, when RC001 kicked off its initially-planned four-month test programme, though flight test discoveries, as well as extended testing of the 747-8F and 787 programmes stretched the flight testing to eight months.
Delivery of the first 386-seat passenger configured 747-8I to Lufthansa is expected in the first quarter of 2012.