Now THIS Is A Whalejet!
All of you out there who, perhaps somewhat derisively, refer to
the Airbus A380 as the "whalejet" (alas, a few ANN staffers
fall into that category -- but we say it with affection. Really --
Ed.) better take a look at the latest Boeing to take
The 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter -- with a fuselage only an
engineer could love -- took to the skies for the first time Friday
morning, initiating the flight test program that will culminate in
US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for the
large transport plane.
The two-hour, four-minute flight was the first of 250 expected
flight test hours for the unique freighter -- a specially modified
747-400, that will transport major composite structures of the
all-new 787 Dreamliner.
The enormous jet -- with its enlarged upper fuselage that can
accommodate three times the cargo by volume of a standard 747-400
freighter -- took off under rainy skies from Taiwan Taoyuan
International Airport. Boeing flight test pilots, Capts. Joe
MacDonald and Randy Wyatt, took the airplane north, and then flew
roughly 150 miles south following along the east side of the island
before heading north again.
"It went beautifully," MacDonald said after the flight ended. In
fact, the airplane handled so well, "quite often during the flight,
it was easy to forget you were in an LCF rather than a regular
747-400," he said.
Aero-News has followed the development of the LCF -- from the
selection of Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp. in Taiwan to modify and operate the fleet of three
airplanes, to some of the first pictures of the modified
fuselages, and its public unveiling last
"This is a key moment in the Dreamliner program," said Scott
Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane Development and Production.
"The LCF fleet is the foundation of our lean, global production
system and enables us to meet the unprecedented customer demand for
the 787. I congratulate the global LCF team -- our design and
production partners, our modification partner EGAT, and our
incredible Boeing team -- for this remarkable achievement."
The flight test program is expected to last through the end of
the year. The LCF also will complete more than 500 hours of ground
testing in Taipei and Seattle combined. This comprehensive test
program will ensure the LCF's reliability and ability to fly its
After completing initial flight tests in Taiwan -- during which
the airplane's handling characteristics will be evaluated as well
as ensuring the LCF is free from flutter and excessive vibration --
the airplane will fly to Seattle's Boeing Field to complete the
remainder of the flight test program. The ferry flight to Seattle
is expected to occur mid-month.
A fleet of three LCFs will ferry 787 assemblies between Nagoya,
Japan; Grottaglie, Italy; Wichita, KS and Charleston, SC, before
flying them to the Boeing factory in Everett, WA for final
assembly. The first two LCFs will enter service in early 2007; the
third will follow later.