The fifth Boeing 747-8 Freighter took to the air for the first time today from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The airplane, dubbed RC523, flew for three-and-a-half hours, during which time it conducted the standard two-and-a-half-hour “B1” flight profile that Boeing conducts on all production airplanes before delivery, as well as an hour of engineering testing.
“The airplane performed well,” said Andy Hammer, 747-8 test program manager. “It was a fine start to the test plan for this airplane.”
Expected to remain based at Paine Field throughout its entire testing regime, RC523 will mainly perform function and reliability testing.
Last September, Boeing announced plans to add a fifth airplane to the flight-test fleet to recover some “margin” it lost as a result of flight-test discoveries such as buffeting at flap setting 30 and, later, a low-frequency wingtip vibration in certain flight conditions and an underperforming aileron actuator. Now hoping to gain certification some time around midyear, Boeing originally had scheduled first delivery of the 747-8 Freighter during the fourth quarter of 2009.