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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

787 test update

Scott Fancher, Vice President and General Manager for the 787 program says Boeing is now 80% of the way through its test program for the Rolls-Royce powered 787 and 60% for the General Electric version.
Speaking after the roll out of the 747-8I Intercontinental in Everett, Wash, Fancher says the focus now is “about getting the Rolls-Royce (version) through its final 20%.” The engine maker has delivered the first upgraded Package B variants, designed to bring fuel burn closer to specification. “We recently got the first engines and they will be put on aircraft in-flow,” says Fancher referring to the installation on the aircraft already moving through the Everett assembly process.
The initial Package A standard engines on the 787 “are coming along quite well and we made modifications to them (as a result of the post Trent 1000 test incident in August, and subsequent surge incident in New Mexico). Fancher refuses to be drawn, however, on the booked fuel burn performance of either the initial Rolls or GE engine standards, as measured during the recently completed NAMS (nautical air miles) fuel performance tests. “We’re not going to get into specifics.” He adds, “…we’re still looking through that data but we haven’t come to any conclusions.” However Fancher says that “we are in discussions with customers where appropriate,” indicating that an unspecified fuel burn shortfall remains.
Revised power panels, redesigned as a result of last November’s electrical fire on test aircraft ZA002 in Laredo, Texas, are also arriving for installation on the line. The increasing drive to get the aircraft to a final level of final entry-into-service standard will help determine which aircraft is added to the test fleet to help wrap up functionality and reliability tests, as well as ETOPS flights.  Aircraft 7, 8 or 9 all appear to be in the potential mix for the test role at this stage, but the final choice will be made depending on how close to the final configuration standard each of the aircraft are close to the end of the baseline certification tests.
 ZA003, the interiors test aircraft, is meanwhile expected to depart on Feb 15 for Fairbanks, Alaska for cold weather tests where Fancher says the aircraft is expected to encounter temperatures “somewhere in the minus 40s.” The 787 will join 747-8F freighter RC522 which is also in Fairbanks for similar tests.

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