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.