The "ultimate" test

Back when I first started at Boeing as a flight test engineer, I gave my brother a framed photo of the 747-200 going through one of the most challenging (and nothing short of spectacular) certification tests you can imagine. That test is called the ultimate Rejected Takeoff (RTO). It’s very rare that we release video of that test, but we’re doing just that to show why it’s so important—and to demonstrate how well the 747-8 Freighter fared.

We basically loaded the Freighter above its maximum takeoff weight, put on a set of 100 percent worn out brakes, and sent it rolling down the runway weighing in at close to one million pounds. Then with the airplane traveling at 200 miles per hour, the pilot is called on to stop without using the thrust reversers. The 747-8 Freighter stopped well short of the target, beating expectations by more than 700 feet.

What happened next was also expected—the brakes start spitting out smoke as they glowed a bright orange. As part of the test, the airplane must sit unassisted for five minutes before fire crews move in. By design, special fuse plugs in the tires were activated, deflating the tires before they exploded. Again, everything went off just as planned.

In this test and all the tests we do, the goal is to push the airplane to its limit to ensure its safety. I invite you to check out the video below for yourself to get a glimpse into something you won’t see very often.

Comments (8)

Freddy Hagens (Kirkland WA):

Thanks for sharing this RTO video Randy! This flight test coverage is great for the aviation enthusiasts among us.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

It is quite a feat that the brakes, almost worn to nothing did not fade out or lock up even when the plane was at the maximum take off weight and was going over 200 mph, this is reminiscent of the 777s rejected takeoff test more than fifteen years ago that also went just as planned. Great job well done.

Don Harrington (Maple Valley, WA):

WOW! Thanks for sharing that, Randy. VERY impressive!

Christy Pruitt (Everett, WA):

Thanks for sharing! As a new Boeing employee I'm constantly amazed at the fantastic technology, and am thrilled to be part of a company that takes safety incredibly seriously.

James Robinson (Long Beach):

Cool Video.
Its neat to see how the aircraft is designed to deal with abuse to the point of failure in a benign way.

Micki Brown (Newcastle, WA):

The technology never ceases to amaze me -- and the safety that Boeing demands of all their aircraft. Just wish the world could view this video!!
Thanks to Randy, we get to see yet another job well done!

Bobby Glascock (Dayton Ohio):

Very neat video and interesting Technology. It is truly a beautiful and remarkable aircraft. My favorite Boeing production will always be the mighty B-52 (BUFF), which I had the privage to serve as crew chief on, in the 60's.

jim barnett m. d. (brookhaven, ms,):

great. i had the pleasure to be at boeing when they rolled out the first 747. i am very pleased

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