Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight tested by former Air Force test pilot at former George AFB

  • Published
  • By Susan Wolbarst
VICTORVILLE - Prototypes of the much-awaited Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be flying into Southern California Logistics Airport, part of the former George Air Force Base, during an extensive test flight program based out of Boeing Field in Seattle.

Testing began with a Dec. 15, 2009 maiden flight between Everett, Washington and Seattle. Engineering test pilots on the Dreamliner's first flight were Capt. Mike Carricker, chief pilot for the 787 program, and Capt. Randy Neville, who flew in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. A graduate of U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Neville flew F-106 Delta Darts and F-16 Fighting Falcons. He was an F-22 Raptor test pilot for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems for nine years before joining the 787 program in 2005. According to Scott Lefeber of Boeing, the 787 flight test program will consist of six airplanes conducting testing operations at multiple locations, including SCLA. "We will have 34 test pilots supporting the approximately 3,100-hour flight, and 3,700-hour ground test program," Lefeber explained.

Boeing already has orders for 840 of the planes, valued collectively at $141 billion, from 55 customers on six continents. The company began offering the plane for sale in late 2003, but two years of delays have stalled production.

The 787 is innovative in its design, said to offer greater passenger comfort with higher cabin humidity, wider cabins, wider aisles, larger windows, and bigger overhead luggage bins than competing midsize jetliners. It comes in three different seating configurations, seating a maximum of 250, 290, or 330 passengers.

New technologies and processes aimed at increased efficiency have been created by Boeing and an international development team. More than 40 supplier partners have been involved in production. Fifty percent of the primary structure - including the fuselage and the wing - on the 787 will be built of composite materials. By manufacturing a one-piece fuselage section, the company is eliminating 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 - 50,000 fasteners.

The plane will fly at Mach 0.85 (about the same speed as a 747 and 777) and will use 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized aircraft, producing 20 percent fewer emissions, according to Boeing.

The former George Air Force Base, once used to train pilots as well as air crews and maintenance personnel, is ideally suited for Boeing's testing purposes. The Air Force Real Property Agency, responsible for buying, selling and managing Air Force real estate, has transferred approximately four-fifths of the 5,062-acre former base to the community. In addition to aviation, the site currently supports air cargo, manufacturing, federal prison facilities, education, and the multi-million-dollar High Desert Power Plant and warehouse distribution facilities.

Media Contact:
Linda Geissinger
Regional Public Affairs Officer
Air Force Real Property Agency
3411 Olson St, Suite 105
McClellan, CA 95652-1071
Phone: (916) 643-1164 x109