Boeing is gearing up for first flight of the second 747-8 passenger aircraft in the next few days. Test aircraft RC021 will be delivered (as D-ABYE) to Lufthansa in 2012 following refurbishment, and later today is expected to conduct taxi tests at Boeing’s Everett site. Preparations will also include a full dry run for a standard Boeing B-1 flight profile, suggesting that first flight is imminent.
The aircraft recently completed fuel system and engine run checks and in the test program will be used for certification of the interior with key tests focusing on smoke penetration and the environmental control system. The first ‘Intercontinental’, RC001, meanwhile went through flutter testing earlier this month based out of Moses Lake, Wash, and continues to expand the flight envelope as well as march through systems checks.
Certification testing of the 747-8F freighter is approaching its final phase with RC501 employed at Edwards AFB, Calif, undertaking stability and control, take-off and landing, lateral stability directional control and high-lift testing. Further to the southeast, RC521 is at Boeing’s Yuma, Ariz, test site being used for a variety of work ranging from further evaluations of the strengthened power control unit for the inboard aileron to engine nacelle draining and cooling.
RC521 - almost ready for flight. Matt Cawby/Paineairport.com
RC503 is expected to return again to Mexico’s Toluca airport this week after conducting lapse rate take-off testing at Moses Lake. The aircraft last visited Toluca in March for runway performance testing, and is amongst the most traveled of the test fleet having flown to Iceland and back for crosswind landing work earlier in April. As well as being at a relatively high elevation of 8,448 ft, Toluca’s main runway 15/33 is one of the longest in Latin America at 13,780 ft. The Mexican airport was also used by Airbus for performance certification testing of the A320.
Boeing has also posted an interesting video describing the ups and downs, quite literally, of loads testing in the 747-8F. Similar positive and negative g experiences are likely to have been encountered by the crews evaluating the flight control system response to deliberate pilot-induced oscillation (PIO), a test flown using RC501 at Edwards in late March.
Air-to-air of RC501 and ZA001 - a rare break for a beauty shot in a tight double test effort. (Boeing)
Test hours on the 787 have now reached the 3,540 hour mark with 1,280 flights, the bulk of which – 429 – have been amassed on ZA001. The test workhorse is currently engaged in a grueling evaluation of certification ‘failure’ tests in which responses to system shut downs are checked. ZA002 is completing the tank inerting testing interrupted by the electrical fire incident in late 2010, while ZA004 is shuttling back and forth between Seattle and Yuma where it is being used for certification nacelle drainage tests. The two General Electric-powered 787s, ZA005 and 006, are also busy with natural icing and system tests respectively.