Boeing's fourth 787 flight test aircraft has completed its first flight.

During the roughly 3hr flight, the aircraft - designated ZA004 - departed the company's Everett, Washington facility and climbed to an altitude of 30,000ft.

ZA004 made a brief stop at the company's Moses Lake facility before completing the extended ferry flight to Boeing Field in Seattle.

Flown by Heather Ross and Craig Bomben, ZA004 is the third 787 to fly since 15 December 2009.

The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines and will evaluate the 787's high-speed aerodynamic performance and further system functionality and reliability for extended twin engine operations (ETOPS) certification.

Later in the flight test programme, Boeing will swap out the existing 'package A' Trent 1000 engines for the upgraded 'package B' engines to test the specific fuel consumption (SFC) as Boeing aims to achieve fuel burn targets within 1% of specification.

ZA004 will also take part in community noise testing to map the aircraft's acoustic profile.

Additionally, the aircraft - which is fully instrumented - will take part in a survey of the flight loads, comparing wind tunnel design assumptions against the actual loads observed in flight.

Following its flight test tasks during the certification programme, ZA004 will be refurbished and delivered.

The aircraft, was originally allocated to Northwest Airlines, but is no longer allocated. A consequence of the earlier delays in the 787 delivery schedules. Also, Delta Air Lines, which merged with Northwest, deferred delivery of its first 787s.

Three more aircraft are expected to join the flight test programme in the coming months - one Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powered aircraft and two powered by General Electric GEnx engines.

First 787 delivery to launch customer Japan's All Nippon Airways is expected in the fourth quarter.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news