Just days after Scott Fancher, 787 program vice president and general manager, tentatively sounded cautious optimism over flight test progress, more bad news has come along for the embattled program.
This time one of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000s on ZA001 suffered a surge during tests at Roswell, New Mexico. The surge, a momentary pressure reversal through the engine, seems to have occurred during a take-off run and warranted sufficient concern for the flight to be aborted and the engine to be replaced. This, of course, has led to the aircraft being temporarily grounded, further adding to the enormous schedule pressure already heaped on the test and certification effort. There are no specific details available yet about the extent of the damage to the Trent 1000 concerned.
Here’s the bulk of the story as originally filed earlier this morning (U.S. Central time)
ZA001 - in happier days at Edwards AFB before its flight to Roswell. (AviationWeek photo)
Boeing and Rolls-Royce are investigating the causes of an engine surge on a Trent 1000 which has grounded flight tests of the first 787 at Roswell, New Mexico.
Boeing is also assessing whether the latest engine incident may cause further slips in the hard pressed 787 delivery schedule. The failure occurred on Sept 10 during ground during tests of the first 787, ZA001, which was at Roswell, New Mexico, for block 1 rejected take-off work, plus brake demonstration certification and stability and control tests. The aircraft, which has been based at Edwards AFB, Calif, for most of August for runway performance work, was on its second visit to Roswell having earlier been there for wet runway testing.
Boeing says ZA001 “…experienced an engine surge during testing on Friday afternoon. The event occurred prior to takeoff and the crew completed the appropriate maneuvers. Back up systems performed as designed and the crew and the aircraft were safe throughout the event.”
The manufacturer adds that it is working with Rolls-Royce to “…investigate the event and understand the root cause.” However it says early results, based on initial input from the “team on the ground in Roswell indicate that this engine failure is not related to the test event in Derby.”
Boeing adds “…it’s too early to determine if there will be any impact to schedule. We need to let the team do the necessary work to understand what happened and what caused it.” It adds, however, that “…this appears to be an isolated incident though a full study will be made to ensure thorough understanding.”