We’ve just completed the intermediate round of gauntlet testing on the 787. It seems like we only just started and now it’s complete. This is the challenging - but also exciting – aspect of keeping up with the pace of progress on the 787 program.
During this phase, pilots and engineers ran a number of scenarios using all of the airplane’s systems to simulate flight, including power, avionics and flight controls - involving hundreds of test conditions.
A scene from intermediate gauntlet: Aviation maintenance technicians Jim Strum (left) and Doug Brown open an access panel on the 787 Dreamliner between test scenarios.
The team has a lot more work to do now. They’ll be analyzing the results of the past week or so of testing. And then there are additional tests. Based on what we learned in intermediate gauntlet, next we run the final gauntlet testing.
During gauntlet, as I mentioned, ZA001 is being operated just as if it were in flight. The only difference is it’s still on the ground. We have pilots at the controls and a team of engineers at work stations in the back of the airplane. The doors are closed and everybody is on board for the duration of the “flight.” Believe it or not, meals are served on board and the lavatories are working!
We run these tests all day and night. This is how we make the most of our time, pushing the airplane systems to ensure that the Dreamliner is ready for first flight and the flight test program.
In gauntlet flight, after the airplane “lands” there’s a crew waiting to clean up the airplane, inspect it, refuel it and load a whole new set of meals. And then, the next shift is ready to go for the next round of testing and the 787 Dreamliner continues learning to fly.