August 2012

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Breaking: Boeing confirms start of 787 final gauntlet (Update1)

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Boeing has confirmed that the final gauntlet for the 787 got underway Tuesday night in Everett.

Final Gauntlet testing operates the aircraft in a closed-loop simulation mode that will evaluate ZA001's systems while fooling the aircraft in believing it is flying.

Programme sources say the Final Gauntlet will be split into two primary blocks. The first includes a B1 first flight profile, the standard checkout of all aircraft systems as part of standard production testing, then building in potential failure conditions for aircraft's systems.

That first block then transitions into the second block of more rigorous "first flight" Final Gauntlet with an expanded profile of tests planned for the aircraft's maiden sortie.

Initially, Boeing found it surprising how difficult it was to fool the 787 into believing that it was flying, due to the greater level of integration of the aircraft's systems. Frank Rasor, director of flight test operations for Boeing Commercial Airplanes said in April:

Depending on which airplane you talk about, it can be as simple as you trick an airplane by setting a bit in a computer or by connecting a specific wire or jumper, and that change the configuration of the airplane.  With this airplane being a part of an interactive network, you basically need all of the boxes or components that might be talking, specifically about being able to make it believe it's in air mode or ground mode, when you're doing things like gear swing testing, the airplane must think it's in the air otherwise you will not be able to retract the gear and do the gear test.  So you have to simulate air mode. 

You don't just put in a flight controls bit, you have to make sure the radio altimeters are talking and saying something about air ground or engines are running and tack signals are available.  You simply have to look more places to make sure that coordination has been done, and the airplane thinks it's in the air.  It's additional work, and I think our test team is up to that, they've already shown that, learning from some of the earlier tests have been applied to the last few tests we've done.  We haven't had any issues with that so the team is learning.  It's just a little different aircraft to work with than what we've had in the past.
The Final Gauntlet tests are expected to last two to three days.

Photo Credit Boeing

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