An intensive series of system ground tests and static structural stress testing of production conforming aircraft continues at the HondaJet research and development center in Greensboro, N.C., as the light business jet proceeds toward a planned certification and first delivery in the third quarter of 2012.
The success of data services, such as the General Motors automotive OnStar system, suggests that some hardware manufacturers will eventually make most of their revenue not from the painstaking process of designing and manufacturing physical products but from selling data to owners of their hardware. In aviation, this trend is firmly evident in Rockwell Collins’s purchase of flight handling company Air Routing in January.
The sixth and final Boeing 787 to join the flight test fleet flew for the first time yesterday from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The airplane, ZA006, landed at Seattle’s Boeing Field as planned, but two hours earlier than expected. A Boeing spokesperson said a maintenance message during the flight forced Captains Christine Walsh and Bill Roberson to cut short the mission “as a precautionary measure.”
Boeing moved quickly this month to erase any doubts about the progress of the 787 flight-test program after “an assessment of the availability of an engine needed for the final phases of flight test this fall” led it to conclude that it couldn’t deliver the first production airplane until the middle of next year’s first quarter. Last week, all five flight-test airplanes remained active, said Boeing.
The third Sukhoi Superjet 100 landed in Italy for the first time yesterday at Turin Caselle Airport, where it continued its flight test campaign in preparation for expected year-end certification. The aircraft (prototype S/N 950004) took off from the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft’s flight test center in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.
Lockheed Martin has begun flight testing a new sensor for the F-35's targeting system, developed by the company's missiles and fire-control division. The test aircraft is a highly modified Boeing 737 operated by BAE Systems and is known as the CATBird (cooperative avionics testbed).
Citing “a couple of workmanship issues, and a design issue or two,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney planted another seed of doubt about the company's chances of delivering the first 747-8 before year-end. In fact, McNerney said the 787 Dreamliner-from which Boeing has already exhausted most of its schedule margin for delivery this year-stood a better chance of meeting its 2010 delivery goal than did the 747-8.
Boeing’s Test and Evaluation (T&E) division is spread out over 78 locations, but testing is done at many more locations, including at suppliers and other areas when necessary. The OEM doesn’t own all 78 locations. One, for example, is at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River air station in Maryland.
As certification of the 787 Dreamliner approaches at the end of this year and launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) prepares to take delivery of its first airplane, Boeing’s service ready team is putting the final touches on preparation for entry into service.
Gulfstream’s fourth large-cabin G650–and the first production example–joined the flight-test program on June 6, just three days after the third test G650 first left the ground. As of Sunday, the four flying G650s had logged more than 85 flights and 240 hours, not quite 15 percent of the estimated 1,800 flight hours required for certification.