Boeing announced today that it has completed flight certification for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce engines. The final flight concluded on Sunday when ZA102, the ninth 787 to be built, landed at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., following a 90-minute flight from Billings, Mont.
The company will now submit the necessary certification materials to the Federal Aviation Administration so the 787 can carry revenue passengers. The first aircraft is set for delivery to launch-customer All Nippon Airways next month (Jon Ostrower of FlightBlogger toured ANA's first 787 earlier this month).
The flight testing and pilot training started immediately after the 787 first took to the air in December 2009. After the initial program phases, the company switched to "functionality and reliability" testing where 10 test aircraft simulated real-world airline use by flying multiple times with only short breaks in between. Boeing also conducted longer-range "ETOPS" tests (extended twin engine operations) to ensure that the 787 had enough time and fuel to divert to an airport if one of the engines needs to be shut down.
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"We are very pleased with the performance of the airplane during the Function & Reliability and Extended Operations testing over the last month," Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said in a statement. "The Dreamliner continues to demonstrate that we will indeed deliver a truly revolutionary airplane that will be a game changer in the marketplace."
The 787's composite materials, along with a sharper nose and curved, upswept wings, promise greater fuel efficiency, quieter engines, and longer range. Yet, the complicated design coupled with a machinists strike and supplier shortages resulted in a long series of delays that pushed back the aircraft's delivery fate by more than three years.
The latest incident occurred last November after a failed power panel resulted in an onboard fire during a test flight over Texas. After stopping test flights for several weeks, Boeing resumed the program the next month.
On Sunday's flight, however, the 14-person crew successfully completed simulations of a dispatch with a failed generator and failed fuel flow indication during the flight. Flight testing continues for 787s with General Electric engines, though Boeing has not announced a completion date.