Boeing said tonight that it has successfully completed the final gauntlet test on the first Boeing 787 (ZA001) and that the initial "window" for the maiden flight of a 787 is 10 a.m. PT Dec. 15. By "window," Boeing means a tentative time that is largely dependent on the weather or last minute technical problems.
"We will not name a date certain, but rather a window of days for the flight to occur, recognizing that a number of circumstances, weather not the least of which, can pull the day forward or push it back," Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx told me this afternoon before the tonight's announcement.
Indeed, weather would seem the biggest obstacle. Weather.com's 10-day forecast for Everett, Wash. is rain or snow showers for all but Monday next week. Tuesday is Dec. 15. Everett is the location of Paine Field where ZA001 will take off, representing the maiden voyage for the 787.
The plane is slated to fly for four hours and land at 2 p.m. PT at Boeing Field in Seattle.
All that remains before the flight are taxi and flight readiness tests and receipt of documentation from the FAA. The gauntlet test just completed simulated an actual flight. Also, Boeing said 10 days ago it needed until now to validate the side of body repair which involved reinforcing a small area where the wing attaches to the wingbox. Boeing said tonight the test validated the repair.
"We are very pleased with the results of this final functional testing. With the successful completion of static testing and this functional testing, our focus now moves to first flight," Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program said in a press release.
Boeing also has sent out media invitations that include watching the first flight and tours of Boeing facilities. Another option is watching a live webcast. The fluid nature of first flight timing are reflected in Boeing's urging that media sign up for text messages should the schedule move.
I have never attended a NASA Space Shuttle launch, but I think I know how it feels. See you in Everett.
Complete coverage of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner on SmartPlanet:
- Waiting for Boeing to announce timing of 787's maiden voyage
- No verdict yet on completed tests to 787 wing repairs
- A great shot of the 787 Dreamliner
- Boeing fixes two more 787s, repeats first flight will be in '09
- Boeing 787 repaired wings encounter new composite problem
- Is Boeing opting to expand in S.C. really a good idea?
- New 747-8 Freighter soon to take off
- Top 787 exec Scott Carson to retire
- Boeing 787, the book and the movie: I can't wait
- Boeing eats first three 787s, stretches flight test schedule
- Boeing 787 maiden flight reset for Q4
- Is 787 Dreamliner novel manufacturing strategy on the rocks?
- Boeing's Candor on 787 Delay
- Boeing 787 Delay Call Live
- Boeing 787 First Flight Delayed Again
- Boeing 787 "Gauntlet" videos worth a look
- Boeing 787 Dreamliner mitigates turbulence
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