Boeing 787 Dreamliner achieves airworthiness

Boeing announces a major milestone in testing of the Dreamliner: its initial airworthiness.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner during its first flight. Daniel Tediman/CNET

Boeing announced Friday that its 787 Dreamliner airplane has completed the initial airworthiness testing. The milestone allows for more crew members to take part in flights and more airplanes to join the flight test program.

According to Boeing, since the first flight in mid-December , the test program has conducted 15 flights and achieved several important accomplishments. The test airplane has reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.65 (close to 400 nautical miles per hour) with nearly 60 hours of flying time completed. During these flights, initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers have been run together with an extensive check of the airplane's systems.

So far, six different pilots have been behind the controls of the 787. Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said test results have met all the expectations and have matched the pilot's experience in simulations they have run.

In the weeks ahead, the team will continue to expand the flight envelope and bring the 787 to an altitude of more than 40,000 feet and a speed of Mach 0.85 (about 420 nautical miles per hour). Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

Flight testing will continue in the months ahead. After a series of delays , it now looks like consumers will soon be able to fly in the new machine. First delivery of the 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

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