Boeing 747-8 Freighter Begins Flight-Test Operations in Southern California

 - April 20, 2010, 5:44 AM

The second Boeing 747-8 Freighter, RC521, landed in Palmdale, Calif., yesterday, marking the beginning of a planned transition of testing to Southern California. The more than four-hour flight from Boeing Field in Seattle included testing on avionics and cruise performance.

“Taking the airplane to Palmdale is a big step,” said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. “The team is focused on ensuring a seamless transition into the next phase of the flight-test program as we prepare to expand testing of the 747-8 Freighter’s performance characteristics.”

Boeing chose to base the three 747-8 prototypes in Palmdale for most of the flight-test program to avoid scheduling conflicts as the company proceeds with 787 testing at Boeing Field in Seattle. Fuel-mileage and engine-performance testing will account for the “key” areas of assessment on the second airplane.

“Palmdale provides an excellent test environment for the 747-8 Freighter,” said Andy Hammer, 747 test program manager. “It allows us to take full advantage of one of the world’s premier experimental test flight facilities and the excellent weather conditions to meet our flight-test requirements on the road to obtaining our amended type certification.”

Boeing has stationed a contingent of employees at Palmdale for the testing, including flight-test engineers and the support personnel who prepare the airplane for each day’s flights. The two other 747-8 in the flight-test fleet will join RC521 in Southern California “in the coming weeks,” said Boeing.

The entire flight-test program calls for the three airplanes to perform a total of about 3,700 hours of ground and air testing. The first 747-8 Freighter delivery to Cargolux is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.