After years of delays, Boeing appears
to be finding its groove with the 787
Dreamliner. The fifth test aircraft, ZA005, took to the air
yesterday afternoon from Paine Field in Everett, Washington [video].
The purpose of the fifth airframe is to
test the use of new General
Electric GEnx turbofan engines. Boeing hopes to show that the use
of the General Electric engines does not change the flight
characteristics of the aircraft. Customer will be able to choose
Trent 1000 engines (which has powered the previous four aircraft)
or the aforementioned General Electric GEnx engines.
"The airplane handled just like I
expected," said Bryan, who piloted ZA005 during the nearly four
hour flight. "It was just like every other 787 flight that I've
flown in the last several months – smooth, per plan and excellent."
"We're pleased to introduce the
fifth Dreamliner to the flight-test fleet and to start flight testing
with GE engines," said Scott Fancher, general manager of the 787
program. "It's taken the collective resources and dedication of
our teams to get to this day. There's just nothing like a first
flight to validate that it has been worth the sacrifices we have all
seen our teams make in the past several years."
If the 787 testing program continues to
move forward on schedule, the sixth and final test aircraft, ZA006,
will take to the air next month. The first delivery of production
aircraft is still on track for the fourth quarter of this year.
As of May 2010, Boeing currently has
orders for the 787 Dreamliner (669 of the 787-8, and 191 of the