The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has taken to the skies for the first time, beginning a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery in mid-2014.
With its new Boeing livery, the newest member of the 787 family completed a 5-hour, 16-minute flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington at 11:02 a.m. local time and landing at 4:18 p.m. at Seattle’s Boeing Field.
“Today’s first flight marks a significant milestone for our team, including our partners,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner. “We are tremendously proud to have our customers fly the 787-9 and look forward to delivery of the first airplane..”
During today’s flight, 787-9 Senior Project Pilot Mike Bryan and 787 Chief Pilot Randy Neville departed to the north, reaching an altitude of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour, customary for a first flight. While Capts. Bryan and Neville tested the airplane’s systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.
“We accomplished a lot in this flight, and it went really well,” said Bryan. “The 787-9 is a great jet and we wanted to just keep on flying.”
Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, the first 787-9 will be joined in flight test by two additional airplanes, one of which will feature General Electric GEnx engines. Those airplanes are in the final stages of assembly in Boeing’s Everett factory. Over the coming months, the fleet will be subjected to a variety of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane’s design.
The 787-9 will complement and extend the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes first opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers), and, Boeing claims, with the same environmental performance.
“We call that a no-squawk flight,” Capt. Mike Bryan, senior project pilot for the 787-9, said after landing, referring to minor problems that often crop up on new planes.
“We have nothing to work that’s new and we’re ready for another flight, as quick as we can go,” Bryan said. He later said the next test flight was likely to occur on Thursday.
Bryan and co-test pilot Randy Neville, chief 787 test pilot, said they worked through numerous tests during the flight, including checking a stick shaker test for stalls, an alert system that warns of potentially perilously low speed.
“The airplane just did exactly as we expected,” Neville said. “There were no surprises.”
Boeing has unfilled orders for 936 Dreamliners, worth about $217 billion at list prices, or nearly eight years worth of production at its target construction rate of 10 per month, which it aims to hit by year’s end.
About 41 percent of the orders, or 388 planes, are for the 787-9. Boeing began selling an even longer version of the jet, the 787-10, in June, for which it has garnered 50 orders so far. The rest of the orders are for the 787-8.
The jet flew at a speed of up to 366 knots (421 mph) and altitude of 20,000 feet (6,096 meters), according to flight tracking website Flightaware.com. The trip took it over Puget Sound and then over the eastern part of Washington state.