If you can’t get enough of the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing has created a a Flight Test web site with photos, videos, blow-by-blow accounts from the test pilots and how much each flight time each plane is logging.
So far, two 787s (ZA001, ZA002) have logged 66 hours and 20 minutes in the air over 18 flights since the first one took flight on Dec. 15 after more than two years of technical and logistical delays. Boeing’s newest passenger jetliner, which is 50% made from plastic composites and which promises 15 per cent greater fuel efficiency over a similarly-sized Boeing 767, has garnered about 840 orders.
The current video on the site shows the 787 undergoing live stall tests explained by 787 chief test pilot Mike Carriker. A stall is when the aircraft is going so slowly, it is no longer creating lift. In the 787, the test pilot throttles back to a stall condition while a chase plane shoots the video.
The video is not as dramatic as you might think because the plane is supposed act “benignly” with plenty of capability for the pilots to recover the aircraft. Easy for me to say: the plane vigorously shakes throughout the test (years ago, I was in a new MD-11 jumbojet climbing out of San Jose and it felt like was dropping like a stone for a few seconds. It probably hit an air pocket and didn’t stall, but the pilot hit throttles hard and the aircraft recommenced climbing.).
Carriker says about 200 more stall tests will be performed in flight testing this year before the first commercial deliveries to All Nippon Airways latter which said late last week it will take delivery of eight 787-8s between October and the end of March, 2011 and retire three 747-400s, two 767 300ERs, one Airbus A320-200 and one 737-500.
The site also has press releases noting 787 milestones going back to June, 2008 and sections for educators, customers and partners who make 70 per cent of the 787.
In the scuttlebutt department, Boeing was supposedly angered that enterprising 787 fans were recording and releasing the public audio between the ground and test pilots. The flight test web site could be an effort to get out in front of the rumor mill and anything in the radio banter that could be misinterpreted. However, the site does not have audio yet.
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