A third Boeing 787 has joined the Dreamliner flight-test program. ZA004, the fourth flight-test aircraft to be built, took off at 11:43 a.m. local time on February 24 from Paine Field in Everett, Washington for a successful first flight that lasted more than 3 hours.
The program plan called for ZA004 to fly before ZA003 because the data ZA004 is collecting is needed more quickly both for certification and development of the 787-9 variant, even though ZA004 itself is a 787-8.
On ZA004’s first flight, Captains Heather Ross and Craig Bomben completed a flight of 3 hours 2 minutes at 2:45 p.m., landing at Boeing Field in Seattle. Flight-test personnel were also on board to monitor the aircraft’s performance.
“Airplane No. 4 operated flawlessly today,” Ross said after landing. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us but I can’t imagine a better start to the flight test program for this airplane.”
Ross will serve as chief pilot for ZA004. This aircraft will be used to accomplish tests of the 787’s aerodynamics, high-speed performance, propulsion performance, flight loads, community noise, extended operations (ETOPS) and other test conditions.
During the February 24 flight, the aircraft reached an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 m) and an airspeed of 255 knots, or about 293 miles (472 km) per hour. Boeing says that, as the testing of the 787 fleet progresses, ZA004 will fly at its expected in-service maximum altitude of 40,000 feet (12,192 m) and maximum cruise speed of Mach 0.85.
“We are continuing to make good progress on the flight test program,” says Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The team is staying focused and disciplined in keeping the priority on safety and execution of the plan.”