Initial airworthiness

We’ve reached our first 787 flight test milestone this week, completing what’s known as “initial airworthiness” testing. I imagine no one is happier about that than our flight test engineers.

What this milestone means is a couple of things. It makes way for more Dreamliners to enter the flight test program, and more crew members (those flight test engineers) to take part in the flights.

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We’ve logged nearly 60 flight hours on the 787 – combining both of the first 2 airplanes. We’ll log more than 3,000 hours before completion.

Flight test airplanes operate with an experimental flight certificate, which limits the people onboard to those required for testing objectives. Until we proved the baseline performance of the 787, we kept the flight crew to a minimum – just the two pilots needed to operate the airplane.

Since first flight one month ago today, the flight test engineers have had to be content sitting in our telemetry room and monitoring the airplane’s performance from there. From now on they can be on board the airplane, allowing more real-time interaction with the pilots and a deeper real-time analysis of the data generated by all of the monitors and sensors we’ve installed on the airplane.

It’s times like this that make me wonder if I could go back to being a flight test engineer. But at this point in my career I don’t think I’d be welcome! Regardless, I’m ready for my first 787 flight.

The Dreamliner has been performing as we expected and it certainly has been busy so far:

  • Number of flights: 15
  • Hours flown: 59 hours, 15 minutes
  • Maximum altitude: 30,000 feet (9,144 m)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.65
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To date, we’ve run initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers on the 787, as well as conducted an extensive check-out of the airplane’s systems. Six different pilots have been behind the controls.

Looking ahead, the 787 team will continue to expand the flight envelope, to reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and a speed of Mach 0.85. Following that we plan to push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

In addition, we’re working to get the remaining 4 flight test airplanes in the air as we work through the process of certifying these airplanes.

The next important step is called TIA - Type Inspection Authorization. Upon achieving TIA, the real certification testing begins.

Comments (11)

just_to_say (Los Angeles, CA, USA):

It's so good to see that the 787 is performing so successfully. I really admire how the company decided to work with factories in so many countries to make this plane possible.

To me, it definitely shows Boeings commitment to international business and finding new ways to overcome unforeseen communication issues. I definitely admire Boeing all the more for it, and I hope that Boeing's international tenacity is emulated by more companies in the future.

Andrew Boydston (Caldwell, ID):

Boeing must have a tremendous amount of satisfaction at this point as risks are laid to rest.

I would love to be a fly on the cabin wall while the aviators put the B787 through its paces. Sharp turns, dutch rolls, and stalls. I would love to hear their expressions as each task is completed for the first time. I can only imagine what this means to an engineer's work as it is brought to a reality from theories, modeling, and ideas during these 787 real life tests.

This is the time when the Boeing team is validated for their hard work, exceptional talent, and belief in the product. Even though there are many hurdles to go on this or any project of this nature, the road map to success is now more familiar and certain.

I understandy why your test chief is "Giddy", as is all of us lurking out here, are taking the ride vicariously with your team, we too are Giddy with the accomplishment.

Thanks for the updates.

Azamiruddin (Kedah, Malaysia):

Wow, good to hear that!

Congratulation to flight engineers.

And besides that, me too, if I could go back to being a flight test engineer...

We all hope to hear from 787 at FL430...!

Thiagarajan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia):

Congratulations!

This milestone is a positive development not only for Boeing, but the rest of the world.

Dennis Alcantara (Manila, Philippines):

Great airplane, can't wait to fly one of those planes when they enter service with Gulf Air. I would surely want to experience the promised comforts and technogical advances of the aircraft.

Hernán Saldaña (Lima, Peru):

Congrats to Boeing on achieving this milestone!! I am pretty sure that this is the first one of many successful ones.

BTW Randy, I am sure that, like me, many Dreamliners fan would love to have something along the lines of the Flight Test Journal that Boeing implemented when flight test of the 777 Freighter began. Do you guys have any plans to do something similar for the Dreamliner?

Mark (Everett, WA):

The 787 is truly an amazing aircraft. Every new piece of technology built into it and proven over the next few decades is going to lay the ground work for future airplanes. Having worked on it and seeing the advances that have been made and finally seeing it take off for the first time really opens your eyes to the heart of human innovation. This is a great team to work with and I hope to see more of it in the near future with new programs.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The 787 looks like it is progressing on track with the accumulated hours of testing. I hope the 787 goes to the full cruising speed and altitude parameters very soon, I know it will do well. Congrats to the engineers and the ground and flight crew on the tests.

Tom (Germany):

It's nice to meet the first milestone!

Was "ok", "good".... the project manager only knows it! The Z002 incidents have some good sides but...hmmmm. I think: "No comment".

More positive: You always present nice pictures of the 787 - even in flight, during take off...

IMHO the chase plane pilots enable the photographers to do a good jobs. Chasing a "...Heavy" is always something "special" and there are sad examples.

You will tell something about your "best supporters"?

Dave (Clark AB Philippines):

Its great to see the 787 spreading its wings so well after all the delays. I know it will be the finest airplane in the skies once fully certified.
Who wants to fly a "bus' anyway!
It it ain't a Boeing I ain't going!!!!

Raymond A. Rios (Olympia, WA):

Through a life-long career in the airline industry, I still am euphoric when I see an aircraft lift up towards the sky. I've watched and flown the 727 series, the 720's, 707's, 747's and 767's. I will be around, soon enough to see the Dreamliner, new 747 series and the BBJ in all their glory.

Of course, I have been there, on site- through the virtualities of the Internet.

My congratulations to David Pelton, who is one of your flight test engineers, and whom I've yet to meet, but who knows about me through my daughter.

Saludos y mucho exito con el BBJ, durante su estadia en Chile/Sur America. Nuestros hermanos agradecen su presencia. Excelentes propositos!

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