May 2009 Archives

The gauntlet begins

The 787 team in Everett has begun what we call the “intermediate gauntlet” on Dreamliner #1 - and testing is now underway.

This means that over the next week or so, the team will really put ZA001 through its paces, simulating in-flight conditions ranging from long-duration standard flights to single and multiple systems failures.


ZA001 during the first engine run tests on May 21.

We’re getting closer to first flight, and the rigorous testing going on right now will help us determine whether the 787 is ready to fly. In the meantime, we don’t expect to be able to provide progress reports as testing continues over the next several days.

It’s going to take the team a little bit of time between the end of testing and the completion of their analysis for us to know the results. We’ll have an update when the intermediate gauntlet testing is complete.


A close-up look at one of the Rolls Royce engines during testing earlier in May. Click on the image to view a short video of the engine tests.

Of course, the purpose of the gauntlet testing - just like all the other tests conducted so far on the 787 Dreamliner - is to find issues and get them resolved before we’re in the air.

New York minute

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to sit down for a discussion and podcast with Aviation Week business editor, Madhu Unnikrishnan.


Talking airplane financing with Av Week’s Madhu Unnikrishnan.

Madhu and I chatted during the recent New York Airfinance Conference about the current economic environment and how it’s impacting airplane financing. You can listen to the discussion in the podcast here, posted on the Things with Wings blog.

Born to run

We’ve run the engines.

Today marked the completion of the first engine runs on the first flight test 787 Dreamliner.


Engines running: You can see waves of heat coming off the back of the engines in these photos.

In the initial runs this morning, the team operated the engines at a variety of power settings. The Auxiliary Power System got the two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines started.


Frank Young (left) and Matt Andrews join another Everett Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) as they look at the 787 nacelle before today’s engine run tests. AMTs are the people responsible for preparation and testing of the airplane in all phases of pre-flight.

After some system checks, the team powered down the engines, then later in the afternoon restarted the engines for additional tests. We’re pleased with what we’re seeing as a result of these first tests today.


Coming up, the team will move Airplane #1 to the “Compass Rose” station to calibrate its navigational equipment.

People at the scene were able to see smoke at the start of the engine run – that was the result of the heating up of lubricants used during shipping of the engines.

But one of the main things we heard is that the engines were quiet! How quiet? One of our 787 communications staff was standing a couple of hundred yards away and was able to make a phone call as the engines ran.

Bottom line is, the team is working really hard. And it certainly feels good to be able to show you visible progress on the Dreamliner on a regular pace.

Forward motion

The 747-8 team has finished assembly on the forward fuselage for the first -8 Freighter.

In the photos we just got from the factory this week, you can see the iconic upper deck as it flies through the 40-22 bay - 747 final assembly - in the enormous Everett facility.


A flying freighter sails above the 747 factory floor. In the bottom photo, the 747-8 forward fuselage passes the 787 fatigue test airplane on the left, and 787 Airplane #3 on the right. Some of the 747 factory “real estate” is in use at the moment for Dreamliner production work.

It’s a aerial journey from the installation tool in final assembly to an area for sealing and testing - what I’d definitely call “forward motion” on the way to rollout and first flight of this great new airplane.


UPDATE - 5.20.09

After seeing the great new images of the 747-8 forward fuselage, our intrepid Boeing historian Mike Lombardi remembered a similar event held in Everett some 40 years or so ago.


747 factory, Everett - 1968.

Amazing how the more things change the more things remain the same, as a generation of new-technology 747-8s start to “fly” through the factory.

Slow ride

Under brilliant sunshine and blue skies, the 787 Dreamliner took a short, slow, and significant trip Saturday afternoon.


The Dreamliner makes its way out of the fuel dock Saturday - in reverse!

Airplane #1, or ZA001, has completed initial fueling and fuel testing. Clearly, our Everett team has done an outstanding job working around the clock to reach this point.

With those tasks completed, the airplane was able to move from fuel dock to pre-flight delivery stall #105 on the flight line in Everett - all the while backing down the line tail first.


En route to a pre-flight delivery stall, passing one Dreamlifter, with another a short distance beyond.

On its way, ZA001 passed Dreamlifter N780BA in stall F1. Then the first flight test 787 continued on in the sunlight near the point we call “Compass Rose” before heading to stall 105, which will be “home” for the next stage of tests.


Pushing on, past Compass Rose (top photo). And finally, parked in stall 105 on the flight line.

While she’s in stall 105 the Dreamliner will undergo engine runs, build verification tests, and gauntlet testing - all leading to a not so slow ride, in the not so distant future, down the runway for first flight.

Efficiency for long-haul

We’ve just posted online our latest issue of AERO Magazine. The featured story really gets into the details behind our newest airplane, the 777 Freighter - its heritage, capabilities, range and capacity, design, and its ability to fit into existing cargo operations.


Click on the image above to go to the online version of AERO.

Aviation night in Canada

WINNIPEG – This city of about 700,000 people at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in the central plains of Canada is noted for many things. Winnie the Pooh for one. A departed, but sorely missed NHL hockey team, for another.


But Winnipeg, and the province of Manitoba are known for something else – they just happen to have a long and significant history in the field of aviation.

In fact right now all of Canada is celebrating the 100th year of powered flight in 2009.

I had the opportunity to take part in some of the festivities at the Western Aerospace Alliance Conference over the past week.

And one of the highlights had to be an evening event marking the Centennial of Flight in which leaders of Canada’s aerospace industry, as well as those from the U.S. and UK were treated to an audio-visual tour through a century of aerospace achievements.


An evening to remember – marking the Centennial of Flight in Canada.

For me the event began with a reception and aircraft display at the Stevenson Aviation & Aerospace Training Centre – Red River College, near the Winnipeg Airport. The Stevenson campus is training current and future aircraft maintenance engineers and other skilled workers for Manitoba’s aviation industry.


The Stevenson Aviation reception featured a “Centennial of Flight Tribute” – with some genuine Canadian commercial and military aircraft on display, such as this Douglas DC-3 Dakota (top photo). And I got to pose with one of the famous Canada Forces Snowbirds aircraft.

Seeing the Canada heritage aircraft was a good intro for the next couple of days where I had the chance to talk about the future of our business with colleagues, and in my formal remarks, share Boeing’s view of the commercial airplanes market environment.


One of my presentation slides told the story of Canada and Boeing Commercial Airplanes in numbers.

I started out my presentation mentioning that, by the way, when we talk about the Centennial of Flight here in Canada, Boeing has been partnered with Canada for almost that entire history – since 1919, or 90 years!


March 3, 1919: William Boeing and pilot Eddie Hubbard flew 60 letters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Seattle in Boeing’s C-700 airplane - the first international airmail to reach the United States.

I had a little fun showing the photo above, of Bill Boeing back in 1919 in front of a C-700. “The original C-Series,” I joked. That got a few laughs.

At least I think it did. Okay, so I’m no Don Cherry, but I tried.


Vic Gerden, Executive Director of the Manitoba Aerospace Association presented the speakers with a set of Canada postage stamps honoring the Silver Dart - the aircraft that conducted the first Canadian powered flight back in 1909 over the frozen waters of Nova Scotia for a thrilling and chilling 800 meters at a shocking speed of 65 kilometers per hour.

Winnipeg itself has a special place in the history of flight in Canada, not the least of which because it’s the location of one of Boeing’s key fabrication sites. Boeing Canada Operations in Winnipeg is the biggest aerospace composite manufacturer in Canada, and employs more than 1,300 people.


My colleague, Willy Geary, president of Boeing Canada Operations, Ltd. in Winnipeg, addressed members of the industry at the conference.

Boeing Winnipeg is a “Tier 1” partner on the 787 Program, manufacturing the Dreamliner’s wing-to-body fairing, main landing gear doors, and other parts. Boeing Winnipeg also supply parts for the 737, 747-8, 767, and 777 airplanes.


Speaking of flight, check out the waving flags. Winnipeg’s famously windy corner, Portage & Main, in the center of the city, is purported to be one of the most blustery spots in North America. Some also claim Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities anywhere, but I certainly enjoyed a warm welcome.

As it happens, we’ve just posted a new issue of Boeing Frontiers, featuring a package of stories titled, “North Stars” – about our Winnipeg operations, and about our partners and partnerships across Canada, on the commercial as well as the defense side of our business.

It’s a good read, especially if you weren’t aware of all the things going on in Canada’s aviation industry today.


Earlier this year we launched the Boeing Canada Web site in both English and French. Click on the image to go to the site.

So yes, Boeing and Canada is a partnership almost as long, and nearly as inseparable as hockey and Canada!

And while the Winnipeg Jets NHL franchise may not be returning anytime soon (although there is always hope) – there will most certainly be a long and sustaining partnership ahead for Boeing jets in Winnipeg, in Manitoba, and across Canada.

Dream on

Dreamliner #1, the flight test airplane we call ZA001, is on the flight line in Everett. It’s a big step for the 787 on the road toward first flight.


ZA001 moving from paint hangar to flight line - first stop, the fuel dock.

Sunday’s move means we’re about to begin the next phase of extensive testing required before the airplane takes to the sky later this quarter. Fuel testing for the Dreamliner begins in the next few days.

For those of you keeping track, ZA001 is now “shop complete.” While on the flight line, the airplane will go through some additional power and systems tests as well as engine runs. After final systems checks and high-speed taxi tests, she’s ready to fly.

In April, ZA001 finished a series of tests including build verification, structures and systems integration, landing gear swings and factory “gauntlet” - the full simulation of the first flight using the actual airplane.


The static test airframe - seen here in tests last month to subject the wing and trailing edges to their limit load.

Structural tests on the static airframe required before first flight are also completed - the final test was April 21 when the wing and trailing edges were subjected to the highest loads expected to be seen in service, or about the same as the airplane experiencing two and a half times the force of gravity.

At the end of last week, ground vibration testing was completed on the second flight-test airplane (ZA002 - measuring the airplane’s response to flutter. This means that all the structural tests we needed to perform before the first flight are now completed.


ZA001 in the fuel dock on Sunday.

Moving a new airplane to the flight line is a big moment. If you love airplanes like I do, you can’t help but be excited as we enter the home stretch. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and I know that completing that work successfully - like all of the efforts now behind us – will be due to the amazing efforts of our 787 team.

I don’t need to tell you that it’s been a tough, tough couple of years – on many levels – and we’ve taken a lot of knocks and endured a lot of criticism. Through it all, though, the teamwork, emotional resilience and dedication of this Boeing team - and our partners around the world – has been nothing short of incredible. It’s been a nearly superhuman effort getting to where we are today.

For that, I want to offer my personal appreciation, and offer my congratulations and best wishes as the team moves ahead toward flight test and first deliveries.

But their work never ends. Now that Airplane #1 has been turned over to Flight Test, the team is back in the factory bringing Airplanes 2-6 to completion.

In the paint

Some views of the 787 (Airplane #1) in the paint hangar in Everett from earlier in the week when about 25 reporters and photographers got a look at the first flight test Dreamliner.


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