A Boeing 787 (L/N 86) painted in LOT livery takes off from Paine Field on April 5th. Image from Boeing.
On April 5th, Boeing conducted a test flight for the mostly grounded 787 Dreamliner. Line number 86, a Boeing owned 787 built for LOT Polish Airlines, departed Paine Field (PAE) for its first and final certification test for the new battery system. The airplane took off at 10:39 am Pacific Time and landed 1 hours, 49 minutes later at 12:28 p.m.
The 787 Dreamliner has been grounded since January 16th due to issues with the lithium-ion batteries that power the APU, but Boeing has been authorized to conduct a few test flights by the FAA, since the grounding.
“Our top priority is the integrity of our products and the safety of the passengers and crews who fly on them,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney. “Our team has been working around the clock to understand the issues and develop a solution based on extensive analysis and testing following the events that occurred in January. Today’s approval from the FAA is a critical and welcome milestone toward getting the fleet flying again and continuing to deliver on the promise of the 787,” he said.
The test crew reported no negative issues and the data will be analyzed and submitted to the FAA. According to Boeing, once they deliver the data they will, “Stand ready to reply to additional requests and continue in dialog with the FAA to ensure we have met all of their expectations.”
When asked why Boeing chose L/N 86 with LOT livery for their test flights, Marc Birtel with Boeing Communications explained to AirlineReporter.com, “The airplane had already flown its first Boeing flight earlier this year and was already in the production flow toward delivery before the battery events occurred. As a result, we selected this airplane because of where it was at in the delivery process.”
According to the Seattle Times, the FAA could authorize the batteries as early as mid-month, but it would take a few additional months for them to start carrying passengers. Each of the 787s will need to be retrofitted and crews and employees will need to be re-trained.
Flight Global stated that fix teams have already been dispatched out to Narita, Japan to start modifying the 18 Dreamliners that are on the ground there as soon as they are given authorization. Along with the other ANA and JAL 787’s that are scattered around at different airports across the country. It is believed that it will take about four to five days to retrofit each aircraft.
It is expected that the Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) (Japans version of the FAA), will follow the FAA’s decision to allow the Dreamliner to fly, whenever that might be.
UPDATE: Jaunted is reporting that United Airlines has the 787 back on their time schedule starting on May 31st. Also, Qatar is being a bit more optimistic and shooting for May 15th.
Brandon Farris and David Parker Brown contributed to this story.
Last week, I was able to make my third appearance (or a-hear-ance) on the Airplane Geeks Podcast. If you have never heard them before, I would highly suggest checking it out. A couple of great guys (who are also AvGeeks) talk about aviation and will bring on a guest to share their insight.
In this episode we talk about the issues facing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, American Airline’s new livery, Aviation Geekfest and a few other odds and ends.
Cannot wait until next time!
United Airlines First 787 at Paine Field in Everett. Phone: Mal Muir – Airlinereporter.com
On Tuesday the 4th December 2012, United flight 1146 scheduled from Houston to Newark, diverted to New Orleans due to a mechanical issue. An emergency had been declared during descent and following standard procedure, the flight was to be welcomed by emergency crews upon landing.
As they approached the airport, there was talk between the tower controllers and the crew on board that would indicate they had predicted there might be an electrical problem. Recordings taken from LiveATC (thanks to NYCAviation for the transcript) indicate the crew were forwarding instruction for the ground crews to help them inspect the aircraft upon landing:
UA 1146: If in fact anything’s going on it’ll be the area right behind the wings, the rear of the wings back to the third door on each side.
Tower: Which wing?
UA 1146: Uh, we don’t know. Either one. It might be on either side. But it’s behind the wing where high load electrical stuff is and back to the rear cargo. But we don’t anticipate anything, that’s just where he needs to be.
UA 1146: So following us would be perfect.
The Dreamliner landed safely and all 184 passengers & crew on-board were unharmed. The unexpected arrival marked the first Boeing 787 to land at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. United re-booked passengers on another aircraft and set out to work with Boeing to investigate the issue.
United Airlines First Boeing 787 on Launch Day at the Boeing Factory in Everett. Phone: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com
United Spokesperson Christen Davis confirms to AirlineReporter.com that the maintenance inspection of the 787 that diverted to New Orleans (N26902 the latest of their their 787s) revealed that one of the six electrical generators on the aircraft failed and that back up systems allowed it to be powered by the remaining five. United will replace the generator, run additional checks and then return the aircraft to service as soon as possible.
United also confirmed that this diversion was unrelated to the latest FAA Airworthiness Directive to all 787 operators that required mandatory inspections to the fuel feed systems. The FAA implemented these mandatory checks this week, which had already been recommended by Boeing. United’s 787s have already undergone the inspections for the fuel systems & Davis confirmed that United would continue to work closely with Boeing and the FAA to determine what went wrong with flight 1146.
||This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos
LAN’s first Boeing 787 sits next to the Future of Flight in Everett, WA.
LAN Airlines became the fourth airline in the world and the first in the Americas to take delivery of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Lucky for me, I was invited to tag along (Note: LAN flew me down to Santiago, back to Seattle and provided a hotel).
Even though the LAN 787 took off from Everett, WA (where it was built) on Friday, August 31st, the celebration started earlier. There were quite a few journalists from South America who were flown in on Wednesday and the celebration started with a dinner boat cruise. I might have lived in Seattle for 14 years, but the city’s beauty always amazes me.
LAN’s 787 sits outside, while Boeing, LAN and media have dinner in the Future of Flight.
All day Thursday, media was invited to take a tour of the Boeing factory and get to know the surrounding area. I was not able to participate in the day events, but they were all things I have done/seen before. Not to say I don’t try to get back into the factory any chance I can.
Thursday night was the official delivery dinner, hosted by Boeing and took place on the gallery floor at the Future of Flight. Boeing always knows how to throw a celebration and this was no different. It was hard to recognize the gallery, especially with their white 747 being painted in LAN’s livery.
A movie was shown highlighting the development of LAN’s first 787. Upon conclusion of the video, the screen was raised, reveling the aircraft outside. Although media had a chance to go outside and take photos beforehand, this was the first time that most of the LAN employees saw their Dreamliner. The excitement is hard to describe.
Totally a typical evening hanging out on couches, drinking wine, while under a 787 Dreamliner.
There were a few more speeches, which were almost all in Spanish, so I just clapped when everyone else clapped and smiled when I heard “siete, ocho, siete” (seven eight seven in Spanish).
After dinner, the large glass door opened and we were able to enjoy cocktails outside, next to the aircraft. Couches were set up for people to relax, but many chose to stand while socializing and gazing at the new plane.
I did not end up leaving the Future of Flight until almost 1:30am — like I said, it was a great event. A big bonus was that I didn’t have to be back to Paine Field until 10:00am the next morning.
A delivery ceremony wouldn’t be complete without the classic ribbon cutting by executives.
Friday was the big day, but the delivery flight was not scheduled to depart until 5:00pm. Upon arrival, we had the opportunity to get on the plane and see the interior for the first time. Even though LAN’s new seating product had premiered on the 767 a few months prior, it was done more or less in secret and fully announced with the 787.
I felt very privileged to board my seventh Dreamliner for an interior tour (others: Boeing ZA003, ANA JA801A, ANA JA802A, JAL JA825J, Qatar’s 787, United N20904). I was excited to compare. I have to say that it never gets old boarding a new Dreamliner and taking in that new-plane smell.
LAN’s entry way on the 787 wasn’t as dynamic as Qatar’s and a bit more like United’s. Sort of a mid-ground for providing a warm welcome, but not giving up too much space. LAN laid out the Business cabin in a 2-2-2 set up and the economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration. I knew I was going to be spending about 12.5 hours in economy, so I made sure to check out the front of the plane as much as possible.
Business Class on LAN’s brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. More comfy than economy.
When I posted a photo on my Facebook of the new Business Class seats, many folks were not fans. Just like people, sometimes seats do not photo well. I think the one above captures the look of the new product much better than iPhone and Tweeted photos. I am happy to say that the product looks better in person than it does in even the higher quality photos.
Although the seats are interesting, I always enjoy checking out the areas that most passengers will never see: the pilot’s rest area above the cabin in the front, the flight deck and the crew rest area, which are upgraded economy seats.
Airline customers have the choice to offer a rear sleeping area for crew (like on United’s 787). LAN opted for economy seats, that can recline, in a 2-3-2 layout by the window, that are curtained off and have a separate lighting zone than the rest of the cabin.
The pilot-crew rest area located above the main cabin, in the front.
After our interior tour we had about three hours to burn before departing Paine Field. My game plan was to work on the blog, while waiting for our flight to leave, but ran into a problem when trying to find my bag. I was one of the first to arrive at the Future of Flight (shocking, I know) and when I did, no one had put their carry-on bags down. The place where I put my bag (right by the security scanner) turned out to be the location for checked bags… oops. In my defense, there were not signs posted at the time.
The best seat in the house.
After searching through all the carry-ons multiple times and not finding mine, I figured it was picked up. The problem was all the checked bags were already scanned, loaded into crates and secured. I talked to three different people and two said there was no way could I get access to my bag and one said, “maybe.”
Luckily, I had my Passport on me, but my bag had my laptop and all my chargers for my phone and camera. I was nice and polite, but made it quite clear how happy I would be to have my bag.
About an hour later, a lovely woman came up to me saying that I could go with her to get my bag — I wanted to give her a hug. As an extra bonus, the bag search was down on the east-side of the airport and we were on the west side. I got to take a van ride around Paine Field and right down the flight line. Unfortunately I was not able to take photos, but I have the memories.
I am thankful I was able to carry my bag on, especially since my camera battery went out a few hours into the flight. Needless to say, that would have made PART 2 of this story very difficult.
My seat was 15A, but I had the whole row for sleeping.
Shortly after fetching my bag, it was time to board. We each had hand written tickets (my name was wrong, but whatever) and went through Boeing security (kind of like TSA, but nicer). Then it was time to board, get settled in seat 15A and prepare for a 12.5 hour flight to Santiago. Being able to have the experience to fly non-stop from Everett to Santiago on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner was truly a dream come true.
Continue to PART 2…