787 progresses to first flight

May 3: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has moved to the next phase – fuel testing, the first of extensive checks the aircraft must undergo, will begin shortly with the aim of first flight being completed before July 1.

“We are making great progress, and moving ever-closer to first flight,” said Scott Fancher, Vice President and general manager of the 787 Dreamliner programme. In recent weeks, the 787 (designated ZA001) completed a rigorous series of tests, essentially a full simulation of the first flight using the actual aeroplane. With Chief Pilot Mike Carriker at the controls, the simulation tested all flight controls, hardware and software including manual and automatic landings and an extensive suite of subsequent ground tests.

All structural tests required on the static airframe prior to first flight are complete. The final test occurred April 21 when the wing and trailing edges were subjected to their limit load – the highest loads expected to be seen in service. The load is about the same as the aircraft experiencing 2.5 times the force of gravity.

Ground vibration testing, which measures the aircraft’s response to flutter, has also concluded on the second flight-test airplane, ZA002. All the necessary structural tests required prior to first flight now are complete.

ZA001 will undergo additional power and systems tests as well as engine runs. After completing final systems checks and high-speed taxi tests, it will be ready for its first flight.

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