787 passes test milestone

Boeing has completed initial airworthiness testing on the 787 Dreamliner, which began with the first flights of two aircraft in December 2009.

So far the flight test programme has conducted 15 flights with six different pilots. In nearly 60 hours of flying, pilots have taken the airplane to an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.65. Initial stall tests and other dynamic manoeuvres have been run, as well as an extensive check-out of the airplane's systems.

This milestone will enable more crew members to take part in flights and will allow more aircraft to be brought into the programme, including two powered by General Electric GEnx engines. Both planes in the initial tests have Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.

In the weeks ahead, the team will expand the flight envelope at which the 787 will operate to reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.85. Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

"This is an important step forward," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 programme, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far. The airplane has been performing as we expected."

Boeing developed the 787 as a long-range mid-size twin-engine jet offering exceptional fuel efficiency and environmental performance. Despite programme delays caused by technical and supply chain issues the company has secured orders for 840 787s from 55 customers. The first delivery is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2010.

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