It's been bent, scraped along the runway, frozen to -42 degrees C, flown over 1700 flights and spent almost 5000 hours in the air - now the 787 Dreamliner has completed the final flight tests required for type certification.
The flight last Saturday saw Capt. Mike Carriker and a 14-person crew take the ninth 787-8 built (ZA102) through failed generator and failed fuel flow indication simulations in a 90 minute flight from Billings, Montana, to Boeing's HQ at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.
The tests were for certification of the 787 fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines (testing is ongoing for 787s powered by GE's GEnx engines) and must be verified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration before delivery to launch customer ANA can take place.
"We are very pleased with the performance of the airplane during the Function & Reliability and Extended Operations testing over the last month," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program.
The development program for the 787 has experienced well publicized delays, but if all goes smoothly from here on in ANA will officially take delivery of the first plane in September ahead of the maiden commercial flight - a special charter from Tokyo to Hong Kong.
Boeing has more than 800 orders for the 787 on the books with 256 of these being for the "stretched" 787-9 variant which will carry up to 40 more passengers (250-290 as opposed to 210-250 for the 787-8) and have a slightly greater range at 8,500 miles.
Flight testing for the Dreamliner began in December 2009 and since then the test fleet has flown to locations all around the globe and been subjected to 25,000 test conditions - it's been overladen, landed in extreme crosswinds and even been struck by lightning. Interestingly, Boeing needed to add conductive materials to the 787's high-tech composite airframe because of the potential danger posed from lightning compared with an all aluminum plane.
The Boeing video below looks at the final flight test last Saturday (and gives an insight into the formidable challenges of certifying a brand new commercial airliner).
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