Boeing 787 on Home Stretch to Certification

 - July 1, 2011, 4:13 AM

Boeing early last week launched function and reliability (F&R) testing and extended operations (ETOPS) demonstrations on the 787 Dreamliner, marking the start of the final phase of flight testing before certification.

"We are ready for this final phase of flight testing,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “The team has created a solid plan for accomplishing the hours and test points required for F&R and ETOPS testing in support of delivery to our customer ANA in the August to September time period.”

Along with F&R and ETOPS testing for the 787 with Rolls-Royce engines, Boeing continues certification testing on 787s with General Electric engines and plans to conduct a separate F&R/ETOPS test program for the GENx-powered version of the airplane. Other activities will continue on the flight test fleet to support Boeing objectives, including examining potential technologies for the 787-9 and testing engine improvement packages.

Hoping to deliver 20 airplanes this year, Boeing still needs to fly its 787s nearly 300 hours to complete F&R testing and ETOPS approvals. Early last month Fancher told reporters in Everett, Wash., that the in-flight electrical fire aboard the second 787 prototype last November as it approached Laredo, Texas, would not compromise Boeing’s ability to gain ETOPS certification in due course. “We wouldn’t be entering into [function and reliability] and ETOPS [testing], if both we and the FAA weren’t convinced where the maturity was where it needed to be,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, this week Boeing and launch customer All Nippon Airways plan to accomplish so-called service readiness operations with the second 787 prototype–ZA002–at several airports in Japan. The program includes trips between Haneda Airport in Tokyo and airports in Osaka (Itami and Kansai), Okayama and Hiroshima. First flight marks the 787’s maiden appearance in Japan.

“We will in essence induct that airplane into ANA’s operating system and maintenance system and for a period of time we’re going to operate that airplane very much like it was an ANA airplane,” said Fancher. During that time officials from Japan’s Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) will observe the operation, he added. “And then from there there’s a series of regulatory milestones associated with the JCAB that both ANA and we have to work on.”