(BA) Boeing 787 Testing Program in Homestretch

Aerospace giant The Boeing Co. (BA) began the Function & Reliability (F&R) testing and extended operations (ETOPS) on its much-awaited 787 Dreamliner before it receives necessary certification for delivery to its launch customer. These two tests will check the capability of the 787 Dreamliner in hazardous flying conditions.

In the F&R test the aircraft will go through certain simulated normal and abnormal operations in a realistic airline-like flight environment, while ETOPS relates to checking the extended operations capability of the aircraft, when these are more than an hour away from the suitable landing field.  ETOPS will certify 787 Dreamliner’s ability to fly safely when one of its engines fails to operate.

Boeing along with its launch customer – Japan’s All Nippon Airways – decided in May to work together to prove the readiness of the aircraft to ensure its entry into commercial service. The companies used a test aircraft and simulated in-service operations across several airports in Japan in a service-ready operational validation.

The 787 Dreamliner is the first passenger jetliner to be manufactured by mostly using lightweight and environment-friendly composite material; a welcome change from traditional materials like aluminum and titanium.

Although the 787 Program is currently running it is more than three years behind schedule. Despite delays, the new airplane is preferred by airline companies as it also promises fuel efficiency, consuming 20% less fuel than the airplanes of other manufacturers.

Currently, Boeing has 835 net orders for the 787. Perhaps because of the postponement the jetliner’s order book suffered a drastic fall from 2009 levels. Since the beginning of 2011 the company faced as many as 20 cancellations.

The Boeing Co., based in Chicago, currently has a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating). We also maintain a long-term Neutral rating on the stock. The company competes with the likes of General Dynamics Corp. (GD), Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC).

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