While 787 flight tests remain suspended pending the outcome of investigations into the Nov 9 electrical fire on ZA002, Boeing is planning to fly two 787s in the next few days – but only for short ferry flights between its manufacturing and test facilities in Everett and Seattle.
The third test aircraft, ZA003, is expected to move from Everett to Boeing Field in coming days to resume ground tests. The fourth aircraft, ZA004, is meanwhile due to fly in the opposite direction sometime on Saturday (Nov 20), as it travels back to Everett from Boeing Field for upcoming scheduled maintenance. According to industry sources, the move is not directly related to any rework associated with the electrical fire investigation, nor is it the aircraft’s long-awaited retrofit with the upgraded ‘Package B’ version of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.
ZA002, meanwhile remains grounded in Laredo, Texas while Boeing crews work to replace damaged parts in the electrical equipment bay, as well as continue inspections of the structure and systems. ZA001 is being used to conduct a variety of ground tests at Boeing Field ranging from operation of the high-lift system, and hydraulics as well as back-up electrical system tests which involve using the aircraft’s lithium ion batteries to operate the refueling system. Reportedly due to be replaced on production models by longer-life manganese-based batteries, the Japanese-made lithium units will be used to test the same set of systems.
Rolls-Royce has also delivered both new engines for the ninth 787, ZA102, one of the original units for which was destroyed in the uncontained failure experienced in a testbed at Derby in the UK in August. The aircraft, also known as Line Number 9, will be the first production standard unit to fly and is set to augment the original test fleet by participating in the latter stages of the functional, reliability and ETOPS certification phase. The aircraft, originally earmarked for first flight in late November, is now expected to be rolled out to the Everett flight ramp on Nov 28, and will likely fly for the first time in December.
787 Electrical System schematic (Boeing)
ZA005, which up until the Nov 9 incident had been flying regularly out of Victorville, Calif., on nautical air miles fuel burn test flights for the baseline General Electric GEnx-1B version, is now undertaking ground tests of the electrical circuit breaker system. ZA006, last known to be undertaking safety system and engine-related tests, is also now back in Seattle.