Boeing has confirmed the first 747-8 Freighter started gauntlet tests on January 21, raising the prospect that the aircraft’s first flight will take place within weeks.
The gauntlet tests simulate flying conditions in an attempt to test and validate all systems as part of preparing for first flight. Following a successful gauntlet, it is expected the aircraft will undergo taxi and high speed rejected takeoff tests before it is cleared to make its first flight.
Officially, Boeing has only said that the aircraft will fly in the first quarter of 2010, although some reports claim that the flight will take place in late January or early February, pending a successful outcome from the gauntlet and taxi tests.
Boeing currently holds orders for 108 747-8s, including 76 Freighters.