Boeing has begun low-speed wind tunnel tests on the Boeing 777X, the company announced Monday. Testing started on December 5 in Farnborough, UK, at facilities run by testing partner QinetiQ. Boeing and QinetiQ recently signed an agreement to extend the wind tunnel partnership at Farnborough for another five years.
“This is the first major development milestone for the program since we launched the program last month,” said Terry Beezhold, vice president and chief project engineer of the 777X program. “Wind tunnel testing will validate our performance models and generate a vast amount of data that our engineering teams will use to design the airplane in this phase of development.” Low-speed tests measure airplane performance with a variety of high-lift surface settings to simulate takeoff and landing conditions
A 5.5-percent scale representation of the baseline 777X, the low-speed model now undergoing testing, measures about 166 inches long with a wingspan of 154 inches. Hundreds of sensors embedded in the model measure pressure to determine the in-flight loads as well as provide diagnostics of the aerodynamic performance of a given design.
Boeing expects low-speed testing at the QinetiQ facility to last approximately five months, after which plans call for testing to resume at the Boeing Transonic Wind Tunnel in Seattle to further validate 777X high-speed performance projections.
“We are on track to complete our top-level design in 2014 and reach firm configuration in 2015,” said Beezhold.