Six-hundred and six days after it first began on a cold and rainy December day, it’s done. Mostly.
The certification flight trials for Boeing’s first 787 variant were completed in the afternoon hours of August 13, rounding out a half-day’s worth of testing that took ZA102 to Salt Lake City, Utah and Billings, Montana before returning to Paine Field in Everett.
It would be the last of the required certification flight testing required for the FAA’s system functionality and reliability (F&R) testing, which began in late June.
On Sunday, ZA102 flew with a plane-load of passengers to put the the aircraft’s IFE and environmental control systems to the test, with final F&R ground tests afterward, say program sources, a test for Boeing, not the FAA.
The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered test fleet has flown nearly 3,800h since ZA001’s maiden flight on December 15, 2009 and along with two General Electric GEnx test aircraft, visited 14* countries, and faced high altitudes, freezing and sweltering temperatures, high winds, water and one very important trial by fire.
The 20 months of testing, was significantly longer than the company’s first planned eight months, at one point in late 2007 estimating that 787’s certification would take as little as five, employing its 24h test methodology to fly 2,430 hours to certify the Rolls-Royce powered 787.
Monday will likely bring the formal announcement by Boeing of the completion of 787’s certification flight tests with Trent 1000 Package A engines.
While this first extraordinary chapter in the life of the 787’s test program comes to a close, there are still major milestones left to secure, including final US and Japanese regulatory approval and certification of the airframe pairing with 70,000lb Trent 1000 Package B and General Electric GEnx-1B engines still being tested on ZA005 and ZA006, is expected later this year.
The first four deliveries to ANA will be powered by Package A engines and will live their lives rated at 64,000lbs of thrust for short and medium-haul international missions, before the Package B engines – which are being tested in Yuma by ZA004 – advance to within 1% of promised specific fuel consumption.
Notably the 1% SFC is for the engine only, and its yet unclear how close the updated engine gets to the aircraft-wide fuel burn target when integrated, though ANA has said the 787-8 is still capable of reaching to US East Coast from Japan, when they begin international operations in early 2012.
While the Package A certification is a crucial first step to establish the 787’s base type certificate, the Package B and GEnx-1B certifications will clear the way for the next 823 ordered by the world’s airlines.