Posted by John McHale
VALPARAISO, Fla., 24 April 2010. The Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner began a series of extreme-weather tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Fla. A special hangar at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base allows the airplane to experience heat as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) and as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 Celsius).
After the airplane is stabilized at either the hot or cold temperatures, flight test technicians will follow the Airplane Maintenance Manual to perform the steps required to prepare the airplane for flight release and operate under these conditions. Sensors and monitors will allow the test team to determine if all flight systems hardware and software operate as expected.
Cold-weather testing is being conducted first, with preliminary hot-weather testing to follow. Additional extreme-weather testing will be conducted later in the flight test program.
"We have Dreamliner customers who will operate the 787 in a wide variety of environments throughout the world," says Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This testing is about ensuring that the airplane meets the expectations of our customers."
A crew of approximately 100 people traveled from Seattle to support the test operations on ZA003, the third 787 airplane to be built.
The McKinley Climatic Laboratory is the second remote testing location for the 787 Dreamliner. The second airplane in the fleet, ZA002, performed a variety of tests in Victorville, Calif., last month. The testing in Florida is expected to last nearly two weeks.
The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new twinjet designed to meet the needs of airlines around the world in providing nonstop service between mid-size cities with new levels of efficiency. The airplane will bring improved levels of comfort to passengers with larger windows, bigger baggage bins and advances in the cabin environment, including lower cabin altitude, higher humidity and cleaner air. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010, Boeing officials say.
Fifty-seven customers around the world have ordered 866 787s since the program was launched in April 2004. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.