Boeing’s oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner took off on its first flight at approximately 10:27am local time on December 15 (approximately 5:27am December 16 AEDST) from Paine Field, Everett, to begin a three hour long flight test.
The aircraft, ZA001 registered N787BA, was piloted by 787 chief pilot Michael Carriker and engineering pilot Randall Neville, with the flight marking the commencement of a 3100 hour, six aircraft flight test and certification program which should lead to US FAA certification and first customer deliveries in late 2010.
Thousands of Boeing employees and members of the public watched ZA001, accompanied by two Boeing operated T-33 ”T-Bird’ chase planes, take off from Paine Field’s Runway34L under grey skies. The aircraft landed at Boeing Field in Seattle, from where most of the flight test campaign will be conducted, just over three hours later, the flight cut short by two hours due to poor weather.
While airborne ZA001 reached an altitude of 15,000ft and a speed of 180kt, typical figures for a first flight, Boeing said.
“Today is truly a proud and historic day for the global team who has worked tirelessly to design and build the 787 Dreamliner – the first all-new jet airplane of the 21st century,” said Boeing’s vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Scott Fancher. “We look forward to the upcoming flight test program and soon bringing groundbreaking levels of efficiency, technology and passenger comfort to airlines and the flying public.”
Some 56 customers have ordered 840 787s, including locally the Qantas Group, whose low cost subsidiary Jetstar is due to place its first 787, a 787-9, into service in 2013. Qantas has 50 787s on order, half of which are planned for Jetstar.
“On the eve of Christmas it is really pleasing to see the first flight. Our organisation is really pleased to see the reality of it, it sends all the right messages,” said Simon Westaway, head of corporate communications for Jetstar.
Video of the takeoff can be viewed here.