Dreamliner First Flight

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is flying for the first time today! This is probably the most awaited headline in the world of commercial aviation and can finally be published, after almost three years waiting and after a little longer than 3 hours flying time today, on December 15. 2009.

The Dreamliner was revealed on July 9, 2007, two and a half years ago. According to the original schedule, the first flight test aircraft should have taken off in the same year. This was first pushed out just two months later, when in early September 2007 Boeing announced a 2 month delay for the maiden flight. Back then they communicated that the first delivery would still be on time (it would have meant a 5 month flight-test period compared to the 777’s 11 months…), so that launch-customer, Japanese ANA could still take passengers to the Beijing Olympics on the new state-of-the-art airliner. The Beijing Olympics came and went, the Pittsburgh Steelers won Superbowl XLIII in Tampa, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley cup, Barcelona claimed the Champions League crown for 2009, Sebastien Loeb victored in Rally again and Jenson Button won the 2009 Formula-1 world title with the new Brawn GP team, but the Dreamliner has still not taken to the skies yet.

There were delays due to “software problems“, “shortage of bolts“, “difficulties around the global supply chain”, then in July came the latest Dreamliner delay news about “a series of relatively small areas” on both sides of the aircraft’s body in the “upper wing join area” that registered stress levels during static testing that “exceeded expectations” – which blew the Summer 2009 first flight plans as well.

But Santa in 2009 seems to bring a huge and long-awaited Christmas gift to all Boeing Commercial employees, to all the 55 airlines that have so far ordered 840 (!) 787’s (some of them have cancelled already, due to the delays) and to all aviation fans: THE FIRST FLIGHT !

Following the power-up, the extended stress tests on the aircraft body, the low speed taxi tests and the high speed taxi tests this past Saturday, the 787 took to the skies at 10:27 am Seattle time at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, heading to Boeing Field. The historic maiden flight was piloted by Michael H. Carriker, Chief Pilot of the type and Randall Lee Neville, Engineering Test Pilot of the 787. Carriker has been with the 787 Program since 2003, while Neville joined in 2005, after clocking more than 600 hours in 9 years with the F-22 Raptor fighter. Interestingly he also played an F-22 pilot in the movie “The Hulk”. Carriker was the captain on the first flights of the Boeing Next-Generation 737-600 and 737-900 type. They both hold type ratings in all current Boeing production models.

Just a little after 3 hours of flight, the first 787 flight touched down at Boeing field in rain, but in perfect style and the landing looked like a very soft one – from the outside. The plane was escorted on the slightly more than 3 hour flight by two T-33 training planes with cameras onboard. The plane arrived to Boeing Field at 1:35 pm local time.

You can ready about the Design Highlights of the Dreamliner here.

by balint01

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