The Boeing 787-9 flight-test programme has progressed smoothly over its first six months and the manufacturer is on course to deliver the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered version this summer as scheduled.

Flight testing of the stretched Dreamliner derivative began on 17 September last year, when the first of three 787-9 development aircraft (line number 126) took to the air. Delivery of the first Trent-powered 787-9 to launch operator Air New Zealand is scheduled for mid-2014.

The test campaign, which is being based at Boeing Field in Seattle, is expected to comprise around 1,500 flight hours, a portion of which will cover function and reliability (F&R) and ETOPS testing.

“That [1,500h] is a number that you go in with, and there’s a certain level of growth that you typically expect to see throughout the programme, but we’ve had less than the typical amount of growth in hours,” says Mark Jenks, Boeing’s vice-president of 787 derivatives development.

Two Trent 1000-powered 787-9s have flown, along with the first General Electric GEnx-powered version. Boeing says the three aircraft have flown in excess of 1,000h in more than 440 flights to date. These three development aircraft will be reworked for customers once testing is completed.

“The -9 flight-test programme has gone really smoothly,” says Jenks. “We’ve now flown just about everything we’re going to fly, and we’re now into the final flights for the score with the FAA. We’re well into that process at this point.”

Meanwhile, the first and second Trent-powered 787-9 customer aircraft equipped with furnished cabins have rolled out of the assembly building – destined for All Nippon Airways and ANZ. ANA’s first 787-9 is currently at Boeing’s Everett plant being prepared for its first flight, while ANZ’s -9 is due to be rolled out of the paint shop on 6 April.

787-9 ana

ANA’s first 787-9 is currently at Boeing’s Everett plant being prepared for its first flight

“We're going to fly the [Trent 787-9] F&R ETOPS programme on the first production airplane,” says Ed Petkus, Boeing’s deputy chief project engineer on 787 derivatives development. “There’ll be another F&R programme on the GE version, and that will be on the first GEnx-powered production aircraft.”

The first GEnx-powered 787-9 customer aircraft, which is for United Airlines, is structurally complete and progressing down the Everett assembly line.

United expects to receive its first 787-9 in July and will initially operate the twinjet on US domestic routes before using it to launch nonstop services between Los Angeles and Melbourne on 26 October.

Source: Flight International