The first Boeing 747-8 performed its second test flight on schedule yesterday, exactly two weeks after completing its February 8 maiden journey. The aircraft flew from Boeing Field in Seattle to Moses Lake, Wash., where plans call for flight test crews to perform initial airworthiness and flutter tests into next month, according to a Boeing spokesman. Shortly after gaining initial airworthiness certification, Boeing plans to send the airplane to Palmdale, Calif., for the bulk of its flight testing, so as to not interfere with testing of the 787 at Boeing Field. The company plans to fly the second prototype some time next month, followed closely by first flight of the third airplane, said the spokesman.
In fact, the third flight-test example completed its ground engine runs just this past weekend, and the second finished its engine tests last week. Neither experienced any anomalies, said the Boeing spokesman. However, the company had to replace the left outboard engine on the first airplane after engineers found blade damage in the final turbine stage. An investigation into the probable cause continues, but foreign object debris appears the likely culprit.
Meanwhile, the program’s fourth airplane—the example slated for first delivery to Cargolux by the end of the year—has rolled out of the factory and sits on the flight line as crews prepare it for its engine runs.