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Fri, May 01, 2009

Boeing's Dreamliner To Fly Within 60 Days

July 1st Is The Latest Target

The long-awaited, long-suffering, much-delayed Boeing 787 program seems to be heading for the home stretch... at least far as its first flight is concerned.

Recent statements by Boeing management confirms that they are intent on flying by July 1st and that the program seems destined, finally, to make a target date in can meet. Boeing's Chief Project Engineer Michael P. Delaney has confirmed that some 60 percent of the required certification package is now in FAA hands.

When the 787 taxis out of its home at Paine Field for its first flight, it will start a test program that is expected to consume 3500 hours, spread over 8 airframes (two of which will never fly). The first flight will probably require some three hours and will terminate at Boeing Field... where we understand one hell of a party is being planned. The actual flight test program is expected to be completed in less than nine months from first flight.

It's been a tough road for Boeing's latest design... the first to take aggressive advantage of extensive carbon composite technologies (as much as 50 percent of the primary structure - including the fuselage and wing - on the 787 is made of composite materials) and some truly inspired aerodynamic fine-tuning. The bird was originally expected to fly back in the summer of 2007, but has been dealing well-documented delays due to the unique demands associated with new materials and construction/fabrication techniques as well as a multi-month mechanic strike.

The first version of the 787 Dreamliner, the "Dash-8" will carry 210 - 250 passengers on routes of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles, while the upcoming 787-9 Dreamliner will carry 250 - 290 passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles. A third 787 family member, the 787-3 Dreamliner, will accommodate 290 - 330 passengers and be optimized for routes of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles. General Electric and Rolls-Royce have developed engines for the Dreamliner. Advances in engine technology are expected to contribute as much as 8 percent of the increased efficiency of the new airplane.

57 customers from six of the world's continents have placed orders for 886 airplanes -- currently valued at $149 billion. Should the program finally start performing according to schedule, airlines could be lining u to take airplanes home by the spring of 2010  - nearly two years its original target. 

FMI: www.boeing.com

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