Dreamliner with GEnx engines completes first flight

787 test aircraft AZ005, outfitted with GEnx engines, flew successfully on June 16. Bloomberg also reports that in May a Dreamliner test aircraft was struck by lightning over Puget Sound and sustained no apparent damage.

The Boeing Co. (Seattle, Wash.) announced on June 16 that the first 787 Dreamliner with General Electric (GE) engines, the airplane referred to as ZA005, completed a 3 hour, 48 minute flight over the state of Washington.
GE executives and Boeing employees were on hand to welcome Captains Mike Bryan and Mike Carriker to Boeing Field in Seattle following completion of the flight.

"The airplane handled just like I expected," said Bryan, who captained the flight. "It was just like every other 787 flight that I've flown in the last several months — smooth, per plan and excellent."

"We're pleased to introduce the fifth Dreamliner to the flight-test fleet and to start flight testing with GE engines," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It's taken the collective resources and dedication of our teams to get to this day. There's just nothing like a first flight to validate that it has been worth the sacrifices we have all seen our teams make in the past several years."

ZA005 will be used to test the General Electric engine package and demonstrate that the changes made with the new engine do not change the airplane's handling characteristics. The sixth, and final, 787 to join the flight test program is expected to fly before the end of July.

In other Boeing news, Bloomberg reported on June 17 that one of the 787 test aircraft survived its first lightning strike with no damage, according to program manager Scott Fancher.

The report says the jet was flying in May above Puget Sound, near Seattle’s Boeing Field, when it was hit unexpectedly by a lightning bolt during a rare thunderstorm, Fancher told Bloomberg. The aircraft’s systems, fuselage and wings all appeared to be unscathed, he said.

“Post-flight inspections revealed absolutely no damage,” said Fancher, who took over the Dreamliner testing program in December 2008. “I walked around the airplane an hour after it landed and you couldn’t tell a thing had happened.”

Scheduled lightning-strike simulations and tests, mostly on the ground, are planned later this year, Bloomberg reported.

Click here for the full Bloomberg report.