"Our pilots told me the airplane
performed beautifully," said 787 chief project engineer Mike
Delaney. "We're going through and analyzing the data to ensure
we're ready for first flight. From evaluations we've done so far,
everything looks good."
While this may seem like a small step
to some, this is just the precursor to the big event which is
scheduled for Tuesday. On Tuesday at 10 am PST -- if all goes
according to plan -- Boeing's 787 will take to the air for the first
time. According to HeraldNet, the composite-bodied aircraft
aloft for more than five hours as critical systems and
flight performance/handling characteristics are carefully monitored.
3News reports that roughly
600 engineers and 400 mechanics will be on hand for the
exhaustive nine-month flight testing phase of the program. During
this phase, six aircraft will be flown on a regular basis to work out
any problems that are bound to crop up during typical flight testing.
The 787 has been plagued with problems
during its prolonged development. Most recently, problems
with the aircraft's wingbox were discovered. It was found that
composite sheets covering the wings were delaminating under stress.
Many of the problems surrounding the
787, however, have come from the fact that much of the production of
key components of the aircraft have been farmed
out to different contractors around the world.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and
president Scott Carson noted in early 2008, "The fundamental
design and technologies of the 787 remain sound," said Boeing
Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Scott Carson. "However,
we continue to be challenged by start-up issues in our factory and in
our extended global supply-chain."
For those that haven't been keeping up
with the program, the 787's airframe is composed of 50 percent
composites, 20 percent aluminum, 15 percent titanium, and 10 percent
steel. The 787 can cruise at Mach 0.85 and uses 20 percent less fuel
than a comparable Airbus A330. For those that like to stay connected
while in the air, the 787 also features built-in
Boeing has 840
firm orders for its sleek 787 Dreamliner as of November 2009.
quote: Composites have been used in airframe construction since the 80's. The nearly all composite airframe is the result of more than 30 years of R&D on a wide variety of airframes. It's going to fly just fine.