Latest 787 Takes Flight

 - January 20, 2011, 8:38 AM

The newest Boeing 787–designated ZA102–flew for the first time yesterday, a Boeing spokesperson confirmed. The airplane took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 3:53 p.m. local time and landed just over an hour later at the same location, per plan. ZA102 will serve as a temporary member of the flight-test fleet, tasked with helping to demonstrate 787 extended twin-engine operations (Etops) and complete function-and-reliability testing. Boeing configured earlier flight-test airplanes more specifically for other testing required as part of the certification program, said the spokesperson.

A production airplane destined for launch customer All Nippon Airways, ZA102 joins six flight-test aircraft in certification testing, which Boeing resumed on January 17. At the time four test aircraft–ZA001, ZA002, ZA004 and ZA005–had returned to flight status. The company said ZA003 and ZA006 would return to flying “within the next week or so.”

Following a November 9 in-flight fire aboard ZA002 while it approached Laredo, Texas, Boeing grounded all six airplanes until December 23, when it began limited testing activities. The incident resulted in another delay in expected certification, from February this year to some time in the third quarter. Following seven major delays, the program now lags more than three years behind schedule.