13 flights, 33 hours

Just a brief update on flight test activity for the 747-8 Freighter. We’ve completed initial airworthiness testing, which as you may know means that test engineers can now be on board during future flights.

This milestone also clears the way for the other 2 747-8 test airplanes to take to the air.


A great air-to-air photo of the 747-8 Freighter over the Moses Lake area.

The 747-8 program tells us that the airplane is performing as expected during these initial test flights. 5 different pilots have flown the airplane 13 times and taken it up to 30,000 feet (9,144 m) and a speed of Mach .65 - in tests spanning about 33 hours of flying. We’ve done initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers, and performed an extensive checkout of systems on the airplane.

Coming up, we expect to take the airplane to more than 43,000 feet (13,106 m) and a speed of Mach .97.

When we get the other 2 airplanes flying soon we’ll be able to ramp up the test program significantly to meet our goal of about 3,700 hours of testing using 3 airplanes.

Comments (12)

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

If it looks right, it'll fly right! Well done on yet another Jumbo milestone!

Alessandro (European Union):

33hours/13flights=2,69 hours in average, when will it fly with full fueltanks?

Chris C (South Africa):

Congratulations on the successful accomplishment of the IAW certificate for the phenomenal 747-8F! Great news, indeed! All the very best of success for the on-going flight test campaign, and sales campaigns! I'm firm in the belief that once additional flight-test data rolls in from the -8F, there'll be further efficiency gains achieved, resulting in additional range/payload for both 747-8 variants! Keep up the good work Boeing!

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Congrats on the flight testing, the Mach .97 flight test coming up looks exciting.

Thiagarajan (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia):

Congratulations to Boeing on 747-8 test milestone and many more success to come.

Daniel Tsang (Hong Kong):

RC501 just looks magnificent in the photo above~! This photo not only represents Boeing's quantum leap, this also represents the aviation industry's future~!

It would be good if Boeing will fly a 747-8F test aircraft to Hong Kong during ETOPS testing!

Though I would still be very pleased should Boeing focus squarely on the flight test and get it delivered~!

Jerry1t (New York City):

Always nice to read good news about Boeing's progress.

Question: You indicate that the 747 testing program with take approx 3700 hours of flying and will involve three planes. It is expected to be certified by the end of 2010.

The 787 testing period was indicated to take approximately 3000 hours of flying and will involve six (6) planes.

How come the 787 with twice the number of planes and less flying hours required will also take the same amount of time to certify?

Could you tell us something about the different testing protocols that account for this.


Jerry, thanks for the question.

To help you understand the numbers, for the 747-8, the 3,700 hours includes ground and flight testing. The 3 airplanes in the 747-8 Freighter flight test program will require approximately 2,100 hours of ground testing and approximately 1,600 hours of flight test, for 3,700 hours of testing overall.

787's 6 flight test airplanes will have 3,700 hours of ground testing alone, in addition to 3,100 hours of flight test. Also, with the 787 we’re certifying two engine types, which is why we need more airplanes for that program.

I hope this helps.

-- Randy Tinseth

Don Harrington (Bellevue, WA):

Mach .97? Who knew the big girl could move so fast? Can you say supersonic 747? I knew that you could. ;-)

James Robinson (Long Beach):

Seeing how much those flaps and slats dirty up the wing in the picture above, I am guessing that new wing will be very efficient aerodynamically.

Jerry1t (New York City):


Thanks again for some clarity regarding the testing periods of the 747 and the 787.

Regarding the 3700 hours of ground testing on the 787 in addition to the 3100 hours of flight testing, the total is 6800 hours. Using a 10 month period for completion, it would averages close to 680 hours per month total. Using six planes would require approx 114 hours per month per plane and using 30 days per month, would require about 19 hours of ground and flight testing per plane per day.

Has a substantial amount of the 3700 hours of ground testing taken place prior to flight or it must accompany flight testing? (Maybe 2000 hours of ground testing has already been completed)

I assume Boeing knows how to order the certification program so it decided on six planes...they could have chosen more, if necessary.

So the basic question is whether my approximate calculations are fairly close and whether 19 hours of flight and ground testing per plane per day works because it is 5 hours less than 24 hours!

Jim Albaugh reiterated that delivery of the 787 is still on mark for the last quarter of 2010 so it must be working. He did indicate that there was a three month cushion originally in place but that has been reduced to one and a half months....still on course.

Any additional reassurance or clarity would be appreciated. We all have our fingers crossed for a successful certification and flight of this fabulous plane in the coming year

Subsonic Puerco (Kerrville, Texas):

If I remember correctly, the original 747 went past Mach 1 (just barely, approx. Mach 1.01) during testing.

Rsa (USA):

With the current rate of flying hours per day, I am in doubt that Boeing will be able to accomplish its certification of both 787 and 747-8 planes on time.

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