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A closer look at the 787 gauntlet revision

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ZA001-May26-Flightline.jpgWith Boeing's revised intermediate gauntlet testing approaching rapidly, potentially as early as today or tomorrow, down from last week's two week estimate, the airframer has offered some clarity about the source of its confidence for its compressed pre-flight testing.

The change is the result of two methodological reevaluations in the approach the company had taken on its road to flying the 787 for the first time.

Boeing says the testing changes stem from:

1. Evaluating what testing can be done concurrently and;
2. Establishing what is a true requirement prior to first flight.

The result, says 787 program vice president and general manager Scott Fancher, is a significantly reduced final gauntlet, originally set for eight days, and an expanded intermediate gauntlet, now running seven days.

"We've actually pulled that to the left," says Fancher of the intermediate gauntlet on May 21st. "Because quite frankly the systems are mature and ready to take it earlier from where we originally planned."

Fancher describes the intermediate gauntlet as much more expansive than the factory gauntlet run last month:
"Here we will operate the aircraft on engines seven days, 24/7 with aircrew on the flight deck simulating ground and flight environments, not just nominal flight profiles but a wide range of off-nominals as well, demonstrating the full robustness and gaining confidence in the robustness of the aircraft."
Boeing declined to specify what testing was being done concurrently, or whether or not it would be conducted amongst groups of systems, or tasks within systems, but the company has found a significant time savings on the road to first flight.

For the "true" requirements prior to first flight, Boeing also declined to elaborate if these were tasks that had no bearing on the aircraft achieving its experimental airworthiness certificate, which is the regulatory stamp of approval before being allowed to fly, making the reshuffling more feasible.

Overall, Boeing's move of ground tests to the flight testing phase appears to point towards opting to add as much extra margin to the front-end of the 8.5 month flight test campaign by completing first flight as early as possible in June.

Boeing adds:
The testing that has been done, is being done and will be done on the 787 in laboratories and onboard the airplane before it takes flight is more exhaustive than any program in our history.

Each of these tests gives us more and more confidence in the airplane. Our commitment to the safety of every flight - from the first to the last - is unwavering and we will not embark on first flight without having assured ourselves and the regulatory agency that we are ready."

  • 41-za100-delivery.jpgIn other 787 news, Spirit Aerosystems loaded up the Dreamlifter yesterday and delivered the first production forward fuselage for ZA100, the first aircraft set for delivery next year to ANA. The Global Aeronautica integrated center fuselage is the last major structural section left to deliver.
Photo Credits Liz Matzelle

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