As part of what is believed to be an extensive series of take-off and landing performance tests at various altitudes and temperatures, ZA005, the fifth 787 certification aircraft is heading to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The General Electric GEnx-1B powered version will head south on Jan 25 from Albuquerque International which is 5,355 ft above sea level. The sea-level runway at Aguadilla is more than 11,700 ft long and the longest in the Caribbean.
Aguadilla has the longest runway in the islands (Skyscrapercity.com)
Prior to its short stay in New Mexico, ZA005 has been based out of Victorville, Calif, from where it undertook an extensive series of long endurance flights aimed at measuring the fuel burn performance of the GEnx-1Bs. These so called NAMS (nautical air miles) flights concluded on Jan 21 with a flight to certify the steady-state performance of the engines, and to assess the degradation that occurs in all jet engines after initial use.
Highs and lows - ZA005 runway tests move from more than a mile high to sea level. (Joe Walker)
The remaining fleet meanwhile continues testing in less tropical surroundings. ZA001 is understood to be conducting certification testing this week on numerous flight control system and control software failure scenarios. ZA002, having been employed on detailed checks of its electronic circuit breaker system over the weekend, is destined for certification tests covering the high-lift system. Additional work may also include flight control modal suppression function evaluations.
ZA003’s long-anticipated return to flight may finally be close at hand, with engine runs expected on Tuesday. ZA003, which is primarily an interiors test and certification aircraft, has not flown since its short ferry flight to Boeing Field at the end of November. Following its return to the northwest from Yuma, Ariz, on Jan 21, ZA004 is busy boring holes through the sky evaluating the amount of fuel which can be certified as officially available for use in the aircraft’s center fuel tank.
ZA006, which had been tipped to return to flight as early as Jan 19, could now be aiming to resume flight tests on Jan 26. After several days of intensive systems checks, the second GEnx-powered 787 is set to undergo a set of Boeing B-1 standard flight ground tests on Tuesday.