The Boeing Co.'s (Seattle, Wash.) second 787 Dreamliner test aircraft, ZA002, landed in Victorville, Calif., on March 9, marking the beginning of the program's first flight-test operations outside of Washington State.
The airplane will be stationed at Victorville for approximately three weeks. The crew will conduct ground-effects testing. among other activities. During ground-effects testing, the pilots fly the airplane very close to the runway to gather data regarding the aerodynamic effects and performance of the airplane during the takeoff and landing phases of flight. Quantifying this performance is part of the certification requirements for all new airplanes.
"Victorville's airfield is the former George Air Force Base," said Randy Neville, chief pilot for ZA002. "There is ample ramp space for parking and plenty of onsite facilities. There is a long runway and plenty of level, clear land along the approach to the runway. We can operate there without disrupting air traffic control or other commercial aircraft."
A crew of more than 150 employees will be stationed at Victorville while the airplane is there. These include the flight test engineers and support personnel required to prepare the airplane for each day's flights and to monitor performance and test equipment.
Boeing also announced that it has added a fourth 787 Dreamliner to its flight-test fleet with the completion of the first flight of ZA003. The airplane departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 10:55 a.m. (Pacific time) and landed at 2:01 p.m. at Boeing Field in Seattle.
Captains Ray Craig and Mike Bryan piloted the airplane on its three-hour-and-six-minute flight. ZA003 is the final 787 with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines to enter the flight-test program. "We've done a significant amount of ground testing on the new systems on ZA003 in preparation for first flight. Engineering, manufacturing and flight operations have really pulled together as a team to enable first flight," said Craig. "It has been very rewarding to watch the Boeing team pull together in support of this milestone."
ZA003 is the only 787 in the flight test fleet that will include elements of the passenger interior features, including cabin and crew support systems. The 787 is introducing new passenger amenities and provisions for a more comfortable flying experience. Among the new features are improved lighting, bigger stowage bins, larger windows with electrochromatic shades and redesigned lavatories with easier access.
In addition to demonstrating that the interior meets certification requirements, ZA003 will be used to conduct tests on systems, noise performance, flight-deck operations, avionics, electromagnetic effects, high-intensity radio frequency response and extended operations (ETOPS).