Boeing insists the first 787 Dreamliner remains on schedule for first delivery to All Nippon Airways by the end of this year, despite some admitted glitches during flight testing that appear to have eroded much of the margin the company had built into its timetable for certification.
“We are making good progress on 787 flight test[ing and] have recently completed both flutter and ground effects testing,” said Boeing in a statement e-mailed to AIN. “The airplanes are performing well and some of the testing that has been conducted will count toward certification.”
So far the program has accumulated some 400 hours of testing of the 3,100 hours needed for certification. Nevertheless, the company had expected to gain FAA type inspection authorization (TIA) by the middle of February. By the time of this posting that hadn’t happened. Meanwhile, Boeing acknowledged that it had encountered some “small issues” during flight test–most notably a loss of engine thrust during a test.
“The team’s ability to address these issues quickly and efficiently gives us further confidence in our ability to stay on track,” it said. “Flight test is dynamic by its very nature. Milestones and schedules move around within the flight test window on a regular basis. While we had hoped to achieve TIA sooner, we are getting close and the key point is that we remain on track for first delivery this year.”
On March 28 Boeing completed the ultimate-load wing-bending test on the 787 Dreamliner static test unit and, on April 7, declared the test a success. The tests subjected the airframe to loads meant to replicate 150 percent of the most extreme forces the airplane would ever experience while in service. The wings flexed upward by some 25 feet during the test and engineers pressurized the fuselage to 150 percent of its maximum normal operating condition.
Boeing collected thousands of data points to monitor the performance of the wing during each second of the more than two-hour test.
Similar wing-bending tests performed last May resulted in unexpected stress to the airplane’s wing-to-body joints, forcing the company to devise reinforcements for the area and delay first flight by some six months.