Boeing earlier this week wrapped up the second phase of gauntlet testing on its path to get the 787 Dreamliner to first flight, including tests on about one week's worth of operations on the airplane along with hundreds of discrete test conditions.
During the testing, pilots and engineers simulated multiple
scenarios commanding all 92 airplane systems as if the aircraft, designated the
ZA001, were in flight, including power, avionics and flight controls. In his blog
journal of the 787's path to flight, Randy Tinseth, vice president,
marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, provides a description of what the
"intermediate gauntlet" entails. Essentially a series of test scenarios, the
gauntlet puts the ZA001 through its paces just as if it were in flight, even
though it's still on the ground, Tinseth says. Pilots man the controls
during this test period, and a team of engineers sit at workstations in the
back of the plane. All the crew is on board for the duration of the "flight,"
Tinseth says, and the testing goes as far as to serve meals on board and
ensure that lavatories are working.
The test scenarios, which include long-duration standard
flights as well as simulations of single and multiple systems failures during
flights, are run day and night. Once the aircraft "lands," Tinseth says there's
even a crew waiting to clean up, inspect and refuel and restock the airplane
just as it were a real flight.
"The team has done an incredible job supporting an exhaustive test regimen," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, in prepared remarks. "I couldn't be more proud. We will continue to take a hard look at the results, make adjustments and finish up our testing so we can get to first flight."