Everett (WA) - Boeing has hit a critical milestone on the way to getting its 787 Dreamliner up in the air. The company today said that it has powered on the first 787, preparing the plane for a complex series of tasks and tests that bring electrical power onto the airplane and begin to exercise the use of the electrical systems. The first flight remains on scheduled for later this year.
On-time isn’t exactly a phrase you would connect to Boeing’s 787 aircraft, as the company has modified development and production scheduled several times over the past year. But it appears that Boeing is on track now, delivering the Power On, as previously announced, in June.
The company said that the Power On sequence began in early June with a series of pretest continuity checks to verify that the wiring installed in the airplane had been connected properly. When those checks were completed, the 787 team plugged in an external power cart and slowly began to bring full power into each segment of the system, beginning with the flight deck displays. From that point forward, the pilot’s controls were used to direct the addition of new systems to the power grid.
At each step of the testing, power is allowed to flow into one additional area and gauges are used to verify that the right level of electrical power reached the intended area. Boeing said that the 787 is a "more-electric airplane" with the pneumatic, or bleed air, system being completely replaced by electronics.
According to the company, the 787 is expected to make its first flight in Q4 2008 and "enter revenue service" in 2009 after an "extensive" flight test program. The first 25 deliveries of 787 planes to customers are planned for the third and fourth quarter of next year. Boeing claims that 58 customers around the world have ordered "nearly" 900 787s since the program was launched in April 2004, which makes the aircraft, according to the company, the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in aviation history.
The 787-9, a larger variant of the baseline 787, will be the first derivative of the aircraft with first deliveries planned for early 2012. The 787-3, a shorter-range model previously slated to be delivered in 2010, will become the second derivative of the airplane family for the time frame after 2012.