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  (Source: Boeing)

  (Source: Boeing)
Boeing glides along with Dreamliner development

Boeing has a lot riding on its 787 Dreamliner program, and after a two-year delay, things appear to be panning out nicely for the Seattle-based company. The first 787 Dreamliner made its maiden flight on December 15, 2009 and stayed aloft for roughly three hours.

The second 787 Dreamliner took to the air a week later featuring the markings of the first customer which will receive the new planes: All Nippon Airways (ANA). In total, 15 flights (totaling nearly 60 hours) have been made so far using the first two aircraft.

Another milestone was reached late last week; the 787 Dreamliner achieved "initial airworthiness" status. This milestone allows Boeing to open up the testing phase to more aircraft. Boeing flight engineers will also be allowed on the flight deck now according to the Associated Press.

"This is an important step forward," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP Scott Fancher. "We are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far. The airplane has been performing as we expected."

The previous test flights have seen the 787 Dreamliners reach a top speed of Mach 0.65 and an altitude of 30,000 feet. In the coming weeks, Boeing test pilots will take the aircraft to Mach 0.85+ and in excess of 40,000 feet.

"The pilots have told me the results we are seeing in flight match their expectations and the simulations we've run. That's a real tribute to Boeing's expertise and the international team that helped develop and build the airplane," Fancher added.

ANA is expected to receive its first 787 Dreamliners during the fourth quarter of 2010. The Japanese airliner has ordered 55 of the aircraft.



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Still some way to go yet...
By Amiga500 on 1/19/2010 8:41:08 AM , Rating: 3
From what I gather:

- Airframe about 5 tonnes overweight
- Engine sfc about 1-2% shy of targets

The drag polar is unknown (*very* sketchy rumour has it that it may be somewhat better than expected).

Anyway, put that all together and it seems the first ~20 frames will not meet promised performance targets. The next ~50 will, but only after engine rebuilds (retrofit improvements). Post frame ~70, all performance promises should be met or exceeded.

Also:

Of course, none of that includes the maintenance/durability promises... which is really the big unknown of the whole program. They go wrong, it could break Boeing (same for Airbus and the A350). Worst case scenario is repeat catastrophic in flight failures. The Comet killed De Havilland, hopefully in 30 years, we won't view the B787/A350/CSeries in a similar way.




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