Dreamliner Ready For Second Test Phase

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Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has reached the end of its initial airworthiness test phase, the company said last week, which means more crew members and engineers now can fly in the cabin and additional aircraft will be added to the program. "This is an important step forward," said Scott Fancher, general manager of the 787 program at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are very pleased ... The pilots have told me the results we are seeing in flight match their expectations and the simulations we've run." The 787 has flown 15 times and accumulated about 60 hours since the first launch in mid-December. Pilots took the airplane to 30,000 feet and speeds up to Mach 0.65. Initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers have been run, as well as an extensive check-out of the airplane's systems. In the next phase of testing, the team will expand the flight envelope to altitudes above 40,000 feet and up to Mach 0.85.

Most of the flights have been flown by Dreamliner No. 1. Dreamliner No. 2 has flown only twice, and was sent back to Everett, Wash., last week to have particulates and debris removed from its fuel tanks. "We've refined the manufacturing inspections to make sure it doesn't happen again," Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber told the Seattle Times. The program has suffered a number of delays and setbacks. First flight was originally scheduled for 2007, then was rescheduled about five times. First delivery is planned for the fourth quarter of this year, the company says.