The Boeing Co. (Everett, Wash., USA) reported on June 27 that it has started Function & Reliability (F&R) testing and extended operations (ETOPS) demonstrations on the 787 Dreamliner. This is the final phase of flight testing prior to certification of the airplane.
"We are ready for this final phase of flight testing," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "The team has created a solid plan for accomplishing the hours and test points required for F&R and ETOPS testing in support of delivery to our customer ANA in the August to September time period."
F&R testing simulates various normal and non-normal operations for the airplane, in a realistic airline-like flight environment. ETOPS refers to extended operations – for twin jets, flights that are more than 60 minutes away from a suitable landing field. During ETOPS demonstrations the company validates the airplane's ability to safely divert for a variety of reasons, including long diversions with one engine shut down.
In addition to F&R and ETOPS testing for the 787 with Rolls-Royce engines, Boeing continues certification testing on 787s with General Electric engines and will conduct a separate F&R/ETOPS test program for that version of the airplane. Other activities will continue on the flight test fleet to support Boeing objectives including examining potential technologies for the 787-9 and testing engine improvement packages.
In other Boeing news, on June 28 the company commemorated the opening of a new 787 composite vertical fin assembly line at its production facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Operated by Boeing Fabrication, the site will build the vertical fin assemblies for 787 Dreamliners built at Boeing South Carolina. Production on the new assembly line is slated to begin in July.
The new assembly line was designed and built using Lean Manufacturing techniques. These techniques reduced required floor space and increased production capacity without adding new brick and mortar facilities. The 35,000-ft2/3251.6m2 state-of-the-art composite assembly line will help improve the efficiency of the final assembly and delivery process at Boeing's 787 facility in South Carolina.
The Boeing Salt Lake City facility currently supports fabrication activities across all Boeing Commercial Airplane models. It is scheduled to deliver its first vertical fin to Boeing South Carolina during fourth quarter 2011.