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Boeing puts 787 Dreamliner through stall tests

Company says that it has put its much-anticipated new plane through more than 50 stall tests and expects to do dozens more. So far, so good.

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying over Seattle during one of its test flights.

Boeing on Friday reported that it has completed the first round of stall tests for its 787 Dreamliner, just over a month after the plane's much-publicized first flight.

That first flight took place at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on December 15, 2009. Since then, the company has been subjecting two separate 787s to a series of tests, all of which are meant to advance the plane toward its initial commercial delivery sometime later this year.

For the stall tests, the 787's pilots deliberately reduced power in both the plane's engines and then quickly attempted to resume standard flight speeds. While Boeing maintains that it is very unlikely a 787 would ever stall during flight, it is part of the normal series of airworthiness tests to ensure that the plane can handle such an eventuality. A stall, Boeing said, "is defined as flying so slowly that the airplane is no longer generating lift."

"During stall maneuvers," Boeing said in a release Friday, the plane's "pilots use a disciplined process to slow the airplane down at precise increments to the point where it shakes dramatically, resulting in forces of 1.5 times the force of gravity."

In a video seen here, the 787's chief pilot, Mike Carriker, explained the process. The video includes some stunning footage of the first 787 flying various maneuvers, including what appears to be one of the stall tests.

But while Carriker and his team have already conducted about 50 stall tests, he explained that they will likely carry out many dozens more in the coming months, as well as several other tests.