Boeing flight test plans to conduct a final “safety walk” for the second, and final General Electric GEnx-1B powered 787 test aircraft tomorrow as a prelude to first flight which could come as early as Oct 3. The team plans to conduct the Boeing B-1 pre-flight ground test on Oct 2.
The second GEnx-1B powered 787 is poised to join its test sibling, ZA005. (Joe Walker)
All Things 787 has blogged interesting new detail about the current displacement of the rest of the test fleet, including a comment about an engine change on ZA001. Having recently had one engine change associated with the Sept 10 surge incident in Roswell, New Mexico, it is feasible this second swap-out is in some way connected. The blog speculates both ZA001 and 002 should return to flight around Oct 5. ZA002 is undergoing extensive ground tests including, most recently, the fire suppression system.
ZA003, meanwhile is also running ground tests including a planned certification test later this week for the windshield rain removal system.
ZA004 is undergoing engine upgrade work. It is not yet known if this is the planned engine swap-out to replace the early hybrid Package A Trent 1000 versions with the upcoming Package B versions. The work coincides with reports from the Seattle Times stating that Rolls-Royce is this week presenting "a series of fixes" to Boeing to address the intermediate pressure spool problem that caused a Trent 1000 to fail on a test stand in Derby on Aug 2.
Interestingly, the first GE-powered 787 has also been subject to engine work amid growing speculation that not all is running smoothly with the GEnx-1B. The aircraft has not flown since making a 16 min flight on Sep 19, and is currently undergoing fan duct leakage checks. Prior to its last flight, ZA005 flew only once before (on Sep 17) during a 15-day period.
Flightblogger also provides a useful round-up of news, including interesting intelligence about the re-start of production after an 18-day “manufacturing float” to again give time for suppliers to catch up. The re-start will force more completed aircraft into the open with 787s moving to new areas of Paine Field for extended storage.