Boeing took a crucial step toward first flight of the 787 on May 21, when it executed the first all-electric start of a twin-aisle commercial jetliner and completed the Dreamliner’s first engine runs. During some 40 minutes of testing, the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 turbofans operated at various power settings to ensure all systems perform as expected.
The test began with the airplane’s Hamilton Sundstrand APUs providing the power to start the two engines. Basic systems checks continued throughout the test. The testing team also completed a vibration check and monitored shut-down logic to ensure it functioned properly.
The first engine run set the stage for what Boeing calls the intermediate gauntlet, where it tests the airplane’s systems under a variety of simulated flight profiles under engine power, including landings and intentional system failures. Critical in validating the airplane’s expected performance, gauntlet testing verifies airplane response to induced failure conditions to demonstrate its ability to fly and land safely under various demanding scenarios. Engineers subject the airplane’s systems to a normal simulated pre-flight sequence, B1 flight profile and a series of failure/anomaly test conditions. The intermediate gauntlet requires the airplane run in a firm configuration with no new software or hardware installations through the duration of the test.
Final gauntlet requires that the airplane run in its final first-flight configuration, again without the aid of software or hardware installations throughout the test.
Boeing plans to fly Dreamliner Z001 next month, possibly before the start of the June 15 to 21 Paris Air Show.