Boeing is busy ramping-up flight tests of the 787 once again, and plans to return ZA002, the aircraft which suffered the in-flight electrical fire in November, back to flight as early as Thursday, Jan 13.
Although Boeing declines to comment, initial FAA certification flights are also expected to resume by the end of the week, having been suspended since the post-fire grounding of the fleet late last year.
With the imminent resumption of certification work, as opposed to Boeing-only flight test work to verify system improvements and changes, expectation is growing that Boeing is poised to announce the new 787 program schedule.
ZA001 is currently leading the charge with recent flights to Victorville, Calif, focused on autoland system tests and to Moses Lakes in Washington for low visibility take-off conditions. The aircraft also flew earlier today to Billings Logan International airport, Montana to test the autoland system on runways with distinct up and down slopes.
Billing’s 10,518-ft long runway 10L/28R has a 0.8% down slope at its western end, and a 1.2% up slope at the eastern end, while the 5,500-ft long cross runway 07/27 has a 1.9% upslope running from east to west.
Billings Logan International Airport. (airnav.com)
ZA002 looks set to return to flight on 13th having previously been expected to fly again earlier this week. ZA004, the first of the test fleet to resume flights on Dec 23, is meanwhile back in Yuma, Ariz, where it is undergoing engine strut and auxiliary power unit testing.
ZA005, the initial GE-powered version, is also back in the air having begun test flights earlier today. The aircraft is conducting a raft of propulsion, avionics and electrical systems testing. ZA006, the second GE-powered aircraft, is meanwhile expected to re-enter flight tests over the next few days, while ZA003, the interiors test vehicle, is tipped to return from Jan 16 onwards.Testing of the updated power distribution system software also continues using laboratory testing of standalone components, integration testing with other systems, flight simulator testing and ground-based testing on the flight test aircraft. The flight simulator, known as ECAB1, has been used most recently for autoflight failure, and control system malfunction tests.
ZA002 - ready for return to flight. (Boeing)