Boeing completes initial airworthiness trials

Airbus posts aircraft delivery and sales records.

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The Boeing Co. (Everett, Wash.) announced on Jan. 15 that its 787 Dreamliner test aircraft already have logged 15 flights (almost 60 hours) in the month since the first flight (Dec. 15, 2009) of aircraft number ZA001 and successful first flight of the second test aircraft, ZA002, completed on Dec. 22. In that month, Boeing completed initial airworthiness testing, a milestone that allows more planes and crewmembers to join the flight test program. Pilots have taken the 787 to an altitude of 30,000 ft/9,144m and a speed of Mach 0.65 and performed an extensive checkout of the airplane’s systems. The regime included the program’s first stall tests — the intentional reduction of power until the wing no longer produces lift — to determine the 50-percent composite aircraft’s reaction and recovery characteristics.

At HPC press time, the addition of two more aircraft, ZA003 and ZA004, to the test-plane ranks was imminent, the former outfitted with a partial interior, including 135 passenger seats and advanced design elements, such as sweeping arches and larger lavatories.

Going forward, Boeing expects to expand the flight envelope to an altitude above 40,000 ft/12,192m and a speed of Mach 0.85. Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions. According to Boeing, first delivery is still set for late this year.

Meanwhile, Airbus (Toulouse, France) reported that it delivered its 6,000th aircraft on Jan. 18 — an A380 for Emirates airlines — during a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany. That milestone followed the company’s announcement of 498 aircraft deliveries in 2009, a new company delivery record for a single year, totaling 15 more aircraft than in 2008. The figure includes 402 A320-family aircraft, 86 A330s/A340s (both of which are records for a single year) and 10 A380s. Airbus Military, the military aircraft division of Airbus, delivered 16 light- and medium-transport aircraft. The company also reported that despite challenging market conditions, Airbus won a total of 310 orders gross (271 net) valued at $34.9 billion USD ($30.3 billion USD net) at list prices, or 54 percent of the worldwide market share of aircraft of more than 100 seats. Airbus also received its 500th order for the A350 XWB, its 52 percent composite answer to Boeing’s 787.