17 September 2006
17 September 2006
The Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter, designed to transport major composite structures of the 787 Dreamliner, took to the skies for the first time last week.
The two-hour, four-minute flight was the first of 250 expected flight test hours for the unique freighter, a specially modified 747-400. The enormous jet -- with its enlarged upper fuselage that can accommodate three times the cargo by volume of a standard 747-400 freighter -- gracefully took off under rainy skies from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport under the command of Capts. Joe MacDonald and Randy Wyatt.
""It went beautifully,"" MacDonald said after the flight ended. In fact, the airplane handled so well, ""quite often during the flight, it was easy to forget you were in an LCF rather than a regular 747-400,"" he said.
Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp., part of Taiwan's Evergreen Group, is modifying the fleet of three airplanes at its facility at the airport.
""This is a key moment in the Dreamliner program,"" said Scott Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane Development and Production. ""The LCF fleet is the foundation of our lean, global production system and enables us to meet the unprecedented customer demand for the 787. I congratulate the global LCF team -- our design and production partners, our modification partner EGAT, and our incredible Boeing team -- for this remarkable achievement.""
The flight test program is expected to last through the end of the year. The LCF also will complete more than 500 hours of ground testing in Taipei and Seattle combined. This comprehensive test program will ensure the LCF's reliability and ability to fly its intended mission.
A fleet of three LCFs will ferry 787 assemblies between Nagoya, Japan; Grottaglie, Italy; Wichita, Kan. and Charleston, S.C., before flying them to the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash., for final assembly. The first two LCFs will enter service in early 2007; the third will follow later.
The use of composites within the rail industry is predicted to grow by up to 40% between 2015 and 2020 according to the Composites Leadership Forum, reports Fibrelite, a UK manufacturer of composite trench covers.
Plasan Carbon Composites (PCC) has been awarded a contract to produce the first composite ramps and bridgeplates for Amtrak.