On Monday, Boeing announced that its 787 Dreamliner had moved "to the flight line for testing," meaning it's going through final tests that will get it ready for its first flight.
This is a big step for Boeing, as the 787 is one of the most important airplanes in the company's portfolio, and it has suffered through a series of delays. When the plane was first rolled out before thousands of people at Boeing's Everett, Wash., manufacturing facility on July 8, 2007, the company said that the plane was expected to make its first flight in late 2007 and carry its first passenger in spring 2008. Those dates have been revised multiple times since.
But the delays, including a machinists' strike late last year, now mean the first flight won't happen until at least the second quarter of 2009, and the first plane won't be delivered until at least the first quarter of 2010.
Despite the delays, Boeing says it has orders for 886 Dreamliners from 57 carriers around the world.
Here, the initial 787 Dreamliner is moved from Boeing's Everett paint hangar to its fuel dock on May 3.
Boeing's initial 787 Dreamliner sits at the fuel dock at the company's giant Everett, Wash., manufacturing facility.
Recently, Boeing completed a series of tests on the 787 that it said included "build verification tests, structures and systems integration tests, landing gear swings and factory gauntlet, which is the full simulation of the first flight using the actual airplane." As part of this, Boeing chief pilot Mike Carriker conducted a simulation that tested each flight control, hardware, and software system. It also involved performing both automatic and manual landings, as well as "an extensive suite of subsequent ground tests."
Boeing said that all 787 Dreamliner structural tests have now been completed. The plane's static test airframe, seen here on April 21 at the Everett, Wash., facility, saw its wing and trailing edges subjected to their "limit load," what the company says is equivalent to the highest loads that the plane would be expected to experience in service. That load is similar to the plane experiencing up to two and a half times the force of gravity.
On July 8, 2007, Boeing had a gala unveiling of the 787 Dreamliner for the company's employees, press, and others. The event was simulcast to facilities around the world that had been involved in the production of the plane, and was said to draw 15,000 people.
Shown is the curved wingtip of the 787 Dreamliner. Boeing hopes the distinctive look of the plane, as well as its aerodynamics, will make it a hit with carriers. Already, the company has taken 886 orders for the planes, despite several lengthy delays.