First flight of ZA004

I suppose some day it will no longer be noteworthy when we have a new 787 start flying. But that hasn’t happened yet. For now, each new flight is a milestone.

So, it was really great to see a 3rd 787 join the flight test program on Wednesday.


ZA004 takes off from Paine Field, the third 787 to take to the skies.

ZA004 is the first 787 to sport the “light” Boeing livery.

It takes much less time to paint - and the 787 program is really focused on making the most of every day they can gain.


First flight underway for ZA004.

Heather Ross captained Wednesday’s flight. She’s one of 10 pilots who have now flown the 787 and is the lead pilot for ZA004 throughout the flight test program.

Each airplane has its own lead pilot. Capt. Mike Carriker is leading on ZA001 and he is also our chief test pilot. Capt. Randy Neville, who flew with Carriker on the first flight of the first 787 and captained the first flight of ZA002, is the lead pilot for ZA002.

Our pilots have been actively involved in the program for many years. Capt. Carriker has been on the program from Day 1. As you might have guessed, flying is the part of the job they like best. But they have other responsibilities, including working with the engineers and with the aerodynamics, stability and control and systems teams that designed the flight deck as well as working on the handling characteristics and flight control software.


Captains Heather Ross and Craig Bomben in front of ZA004 at the conclusion of that airplane’s first flight.

Although it’s the 3rd to fly, the airplane that flew is actually the 4th 787 flight test airplane to come down the production line. ZA003, the 3rd production airplane is still being finished.

This has been part of our plan for a long time. ZA003 is taking longer to complete because it has an interior. In addition, we prioritized ZA004 because we need it to get into its test regime to give us data that the 787-9 team requires to make progress on its work.

By the way, in addition to getting ZA004 airborne on Wednesday, we also had ZA001 and ZA002 flying. Quite a day.

We expect to have all 6 of our 787 flight test airplanes in the air before the end of the second quarter.

Comments (14)

Keith Warth (Sydney Australia):

The 787 is a stunning achievement and also a very beautiful machine. I can't wait to take a trip on one.

Chris C (South Africa):

Congratulations and well done on yet another successful flight of the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner! It's a great milestone to have 50% of the planned 787 flight-test airplanes already active! It's an incredible airplane indeed!

Mamang tsuper (Tung Chung, Hong Kong):

A beautiful white swan indeed!

Josh (Seattle, WA):

Wonderful! Great report!

Chris C (South Africa):

Stupendous news regarding the finalization of the huge order from United Airlines for up to 75 super-efficient Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners!! That's excellent. Or, as singer John Mellencamp would sing: "R.O.C.K in the USA!"

Angel (Murcia (Spain)):

Congratulations for this new milestone!

My best wishes to 787 program, cheers!

Andrew Boydston (Caldwell, Id):

Congratulation to Boeing’s hard working team. Once again, it demonstrated a flawless first flight proving the design and process for 787 excellence. Additionally, I am stunned at the power ZA001 has and is generating to reach its near Mach speeds at 30,000 during its recent flutter test. This is really pushing the design limit to validate its soundness.

I hope you are able to share that series of test outcomes for this critical juncture. Please share on the 787 test page under your "Milestones". I am amazed at the courage and pride the Boeing team exhibits during this paradigm shift in commercial aviation. It reminds me of the old James Bond signature song "Nobody Does It Better". I can’t get this tune out my head. Once again thanks for a window seat into the program.

Tom (Everett, WA):

I noticed that the flight paths of ZA004 and ZA001 were very close at the same time near Ellensburg. I was fantasizing that ZA002 would depart from Moses Lake and rendezvous with the two 787s already airborne for corker of a publicity photo, but I guess they have a fight test schedule to keep!

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Great pictures and a great start to the third 787 on it's first flight.

Alex Erochenko (Santiago, Chile.):

Congrats on the 787 program, if you guys at Boeing want to make a killing Fly ZA001 down to Santiago for the FIDAE 2010 Airshow. This would really be a kick in the face to the guys on the other side of the fence which prognosed the B787 would never leave the ground.

Marcin (Warsaw, Poland):

CONGRATULATIONS to the whole Boeing Team! Great Team, great job, great airplane!

Joel Fox (Kingston, ON):

Question: Is there any significance attached to the colors of the safety vests worn by Beoing personnel? Some are bright orange and some are bright red...why not just the one color?

Ron Williams (Reno,NV):

I've flown on Boeing's aircraft across the US and southeast Asia. I've flown on 747's,/777's/767's /757's/ 737's. Looking forward flying on board your new B787 with comfort and lot's of room.

Thank You Boeing for building this aircraft! :)

Hugh Coleman (Kelso, WA USA):

RE: "We expect to have all 6 of our 787 flight test airplanes in the air before the end of the second quarter." Randy Tinseth

Do you have a current projection for B787 #6, will the event be covered?

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