Boeing says final testing getting underway this weekend on RC501, the first 747-8, should clear the way for the start of ‘factory gauntlet’ tests in early November. Ground vibration tests were successfully completed earlier this month, and preparation work is building up on the other two flight test aircraft, RC521 and RC522. RC521 is being prepared for the start of factory functional tests, having this week undergone final aerodynamic configuration checks and work on the on-board weight and balance system. Test engineers on RC522 are meanwhile checking out the aircraft’s electronic cooling sub-system, presumably in advance of the complete installation of remaining avionics. Assembly of the first aircraft to be delivered to Cargolux, the fourth 747-8 and the 1,423rd 747 to be produced, is progressing with the aircraft now in the wing-body join position. RC501, the 1,420th 747, will be refurbished after flight tests and will be the airline’s second 747-8. The remaining 747-8 flight test aircraft will be delivered to Nippon Cargo after refurbishment.
The first delivery aircraft can just be seen in the wing-body join position in the distance (far right) behind RC522. (Photo courtesy of Saj Ahmad at FleetBuzz Editorial.com)