Photos: Boeing Dreamliner moves closer to first flight

The much anticipated, but much delayed 787 Dreamliner has taken a crucial step forward in the company's goal of getting the plane off the ground.

Daniel Terdiman
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787 paint hangar to fuel dock

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.

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787 at fuel dock

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."

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787 Structural 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.
4 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 debut

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.
5 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 side view

Shown is a side view of the 787 Dreamliner at Boeing's Everett, Wash., facility, on July 8, 2007.
6 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 Rolls Royce

Rolls-Royce was tapped to provide the jet engines for the 787 Dreamliner. This engine is seen on the 787 that Boeing rolled out on July 8, 2007.
7 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 engine rear

Here's a rear view of one of the Rolls-Royce engines on the 787 Dreamliner.
8 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 nose

The nose of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, as seen at the company's Everett, Wash., manufacturing facility, the largest in the world, on July 8, 2007.
9 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

787 curved wingtip

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.
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787 interior mockup

Here's a mockup of the 787 Dreamliner's interior, as show in nighttime lighting.
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787 interior daylight

The 787 Dreamliner's interior is shown in a daytime mockup.

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