Takin' care of business

We’ve taken a big step toward first flight of the 787 Dreamliner. The 787 team finished installing the side-of-body reinforcements on Airplane 1 on Wednesday.

image/photo

The first 787 Dreamliner - in a paint hangar in Everett.

Completion of the installation of reinforcements on the static test airframe and the second flight test airplane will take place in the coming days.

Once these installations (which involve new fittings at 34 stringer locations within the joint where the wing is attached to the fuselage) are complete on the static test airplane, the team will get ready to test the modification.

We’ve done a lot of static and fatigue testing at the sub-component level and we’re confident in the solution, but the final validation comes with that test. The static airframe will be re-fitted with strain gauges and other instrumentation for the test, which will take place later this month.

In the meantime we’re restoring the access doors, systems, seals and fasteners that had been removed from Airplane 1 so employees could access the fuel tanks and side-of-body joint. That should take several weeks.

The idea is that once we’ve analyzed the results of the static test and determined the modification is successful, we’ll be ready to put Airplane 1 back into preflight activities. That includes repeating some of the tests we successfully performed prior to the discovery of the side-of-body issue, such as some gauntlet and taxi tests.

Why do we have to repeat the tests? Well, as I mentioned, we had to remove some systems from the airplane to perform the modification, and we also completed some expected software upgrades. Repeating some key tests ensures that all systems are ready for first flight.

By the way we’re also continuing to work on the remaining four flight test airplanes and the fatigue test airframe.

So, I just have to say “hats off” to this extraordinary team of engineering and manufacturing experts. It hasn’t been an easy task - working in a fuel tank never is – and this group has done an amazing job of “takin’ care of business.”

Comments (10)

Ankih Fre (Seatle,WA):

Good! Lets get this thing in the air!

P.Sumantri (France):

You say ,"The 787 team finished installing the side-of-body reinforcements on Airplane 1 on Wednesday. "

You have finished the fix even before the validation on the static test airframe. That's a bold move.
But I agree that modern structural analysis tools and numerical simulations, like the FEM analysis, allow you to valid a design before tests.

Mistakes happen and that's normal when you do new things. The most important point is that you are aware of the mistake, admit it and then launch the necessary actions, first, to mitigate the impact and then to correct the mistake for the present and the future.

errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum

Tom Pang (Hong Kong):

Really hope that it can go to the sky asap! I've waited it for long long time!

Daniel (Hong Kong, Hong Kong):

The Wall Street Journal has reported there is a damage to the composite surrounding the 787 side-of-body fix.

Could you please offer us a candor and commenting?

I do sincerely hope that Boeing successfully achieves its 2009 year-end 1st flight target, as I'm a big fan of Boeing myself...

----

Daniel,

Thanks for the comment. As we explained to the Wall Street Journal, the issue raised in the article is resolved and will not impact first flight, we're making progress toward first flight and we're on track to fly by the end of the year.

-- Randy Tinseth

Don Harrington (Bellevue, WA):

One step closer to first flight! Let's make it happen, people! And I don't mean on 12/31. While that adheres to 'before the end of the year', somehow it doesn't quite fit the spirit.

V. Lucero (Everett, WA):

I also find it interesting that the fix was installed on the first-flight airplane prior to a static test. If FEA/FEM analysis was good enough I'd have to think this issue would have been discovered the first time around.

Also, since the static test airplane has already been pushed past load limits, doesn't this somehow skew the results of the test or is this factored in?

I don't mean to sound alarmist, but after so many "minor" issues keep coming up I think any good engineer tends to second guess the plans in place. If not, they aren't paying attention.

ARBE (Redmond):

The BA PR regarding ' freeze plugs" used on composites is about as credible as their rollout to first flight scheduling. While they may have fixed the problem by doing the repair in the proper manner, the real question should be whoever id the freeze plug and whomever signed off on the freeze plug as being a correct fix should - must undergo further training on composites.

Freeze plugs ( as used on metal- aluminum sections ) may be ok on static test for composites- depending on location- but at best are marginal on fatigue test - especially in composites- and as the engineer was quoted in the WSJ NOT SUITABLE FOR FLIGHT ...

Proper repair techniques for composites were well developed over a decade ago, as were proper drilling techniques. To have such a repair slide thru any manufactured and installed part on primary structure on any aircraft is inexcusable.

Bob Saltzer (Tucson, AZ):

I don't mean to sound alarmist, but after so many "minor" issues keep coming up I think any good engineer tends to second guess the plans in place. If not, they aren't paying attention"

The operative term is "think fail-safe"

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Hopefully no more problems will arise but if so, do what needs to be done otherwise I hope to see the 787 fly in December.

Michael Carrigan (CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA):

CONGRATS...we all welcome Boeing's Dreamliner 787 assembly plant with open arms. I'm sure the employees who are moving to Charleston will love the quality of life the city and area offers. Historic downtown Charleston, the many beach's, barrier islands, and many cultural events that take place during the year!

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