MIAMI — The second Boeing 787-9, ZB002, officially joined the test flight program after taking off from Paine Field in Washington on Thursday morning at 8:06AM. It returned to Boeing Field, in Seattle, just after noon following a stopover in Moses Lake, WA.
The flight had been scheduled to go much longer, according to FlightAware, but appears to have been cut short due to heavy rain and winds that have plagued the Puget Sound region for several days. The very same weather, along with mechanical issues, had kept the airplane from making its maiden flight earlier in the week. The airplane will join the other test aircraft, which first flew on September 17th. The third and final airplane to join the program recently completed final assembly.
While Boeing has been relatively mum on details of the program, all indications appear to be that the program is progressing well. The first aircraft racked up forty hours of airtime in only a handful of weeks following first flight and has gone on to triple airtime to 137 as of today.
ZB002 is the only 787-9 test airplane to be fitted with sections of the passenger interior. It will test systems such as the environmental control system in addition to avionics and other aspects of airplane performance. With its semi-complete cabin, this aircraft likely will be part of the sales campaign as well. Boeing has conducted a series of ground tests on this 787-9 since its completion in late September.
Coincidentally, Air New Zealand announced the first route with a 787-9 on Wednesday. The company will fly the airplane from Auckland to Perth, later rolling out the type on routes to Shanghai and Tokyo. Airchive is booked on the October 2014 inaugural flight. The upgagued 787 boasts 396 copies on order from dozens of airlines, accounting for nearly 40% of the 787 orders. Even with the upcoming larger 787-10 (similar in size and capacity to the current 777-200), the 787-9 is considered the sweet spot of the model’s market.
Flight paths from both flights, via FlightAware: