A third airplane–Dreamliner ZA004–joined the Boeing 787 flight-test program when it took off at 11:43 am local time yesterday from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. Boeing said the program plan called for ZA004 to fly before ZA003 because the program needs the data from ZA004 more quickly both for certification and development of the next Dreamliner variant–the 787-9.
Flight test pilots Heather Ross and Craig Bomben completed a three-hour-and-two-minute flight at 2:45 pm, landing at Boeing Field in Seattle. “Airplane number four operated flawlessly today,” Ross said after landing. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I can’t imagine a better start to the flight-test program for this airplane.”
Ross will serve as ZA004’s chief pilot. Boeing expects to use the airplane to validate aerodynamics, high-speed performance, propulsion performance, flight loads, community noise and extended operations (ETOPS) and other test conditions.
During yesterday’s flight, the airplane reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and an airspeed of 255 knots. As the testing of the 787 fleet progresses, the airplane will fly at its expected in-service maximum altitude of 40,000 feet and speed of Mach 0.85.