Learning to fly

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.

Comments (9)

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The more testing the better so when the first "real flight" occurs everything is checked out and safe for flight. I like the part about meals being served on board on the ground, on many airlines you can't get a meal served in the air, great progress.

Kinbin (Taipei Taiwan):

Kudos to flight test team working round the clock to compress schedule.

Don't forget to post short vids during the taxi tests and RTO runs, from the inside of the cockpit for the insider look. It will also be good to have an official reel from the outside as well, but you need to get it out to your blog *pronto* in raw form. :-)

Coz there will be (nah, currently now) a phalanx of high-powered cameras already postured round-the-clock across the fence to capture the event and have it posted in the industry blogs while your PR folks are reviewing, twiddling and editing yours.

Adrian (Sagamihara, Japan):

Who eats the meals???

Sounds like things are going well and I hope things stay that way.

Justin Haase (Ventura, Iowa, USA):

Great job, I can't wait to see it fly!


Exciting stuff! Thanks for the info.

Don Harrington (Bellevue, WA):

Exciting times! I can't wait to see this new bird take wing.

mg (edmonds, WA):

Although I have not seen this airplane's interior, based on prior Boeing flight test experience [production and experimental] if it is a typical Boeing flight test aircraft it is full of equipment racks and engineering stations. There probably are minimal cabin furnishings, maybe not even sidewall panels, almost certainly no bins or ceilings. There is probably just one [maybe two] lavatory/ies, one up front behind the flight deck; the other if installed may be somewhere in the forward cabin so as to minimize the vacuum lav plumbing.

"meals on board" implies a complete galley catered for a long flight's full meal service. I would guess there is only a shell of the forward galley, maybe not even that. On-board catering probably consists of an ice chest or two full of cold drinks, a large coffee thermos, cartons full of box lunches, plus maybe salads, fruit and pastries, plus plastic utensils and boxes of cups, napkins, etc.

There have been lots of exterior shots. Why none of the actual interior?



Thanks for the comment. If you watch the videos on the Milestones site you will indeed see some of the interior.

- Randy Tinseth

Trapperpk (Boise, Id):

I have several questions. Much was said early on about the air quality. What can you tell about test crews being shut up in this aircraft for 8 hours using the new technology air filtration system? As a traveler, this bothers me the most, since I have a touch of claustraphobia. Secondly, how did the dimming on the windows work out during daylight hours? This was another technological advance.

John (Mill Creek, WA):

Are they charging the test engineers $5 for the meals - just like on a real flight ? Keeping with the spirit of accurate simulation. Looking forward to 1st Flight !

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