• Frank Santoni’s update on the 787 and 747-8 flight test programmes

    February 04, 2011 - On February 1, at the Royal Aeronautical Society, Frank Santoni, Boeing Test & Evaluation Chief Test Pilot for commercial airplanes, delivered a fascinating insight into the 747-8 and 787 flight test programs. More than 250 industry professionals and enthusiasts were enthralled with the anecdotes and an exclusive preview of flight test footage of stall, brake, extreme wet weather and velocity minimum unstuck tests.

    The description of tests, the piloting techniques, the aircraft’s responses as well as the data gathering spanned various operating experiences around the globe. The audience was captivated by the personal accounts as well as the range of test flights videos shown that encompassed maximum brake energy testing, Vmvg (Velocity Minimum Control Ground), Vmu (Velocity Minimum Unstick) and stall tests.

    Santoni outlined the technological innovations on-board the 787 and how they translate into a considerable improvement in the comfort that the passengers will experience in flight. The focus on innovation for the 747-8 was on the new wing, new engines and 16 percent improvement in fuel burn compared to the 747-400. Questions from the audience focused on the wake vortex separation testing and engine noise reduction.

    With a number of pilots in the audience, considerable time was devoted to the 787’s flight deck and the new head up displays in particular. Santoni pointed out that 777 pilots will only need five days to conversion training due to the high commonality between 777 and 787 in more than 90 percent normal procedures. Santoni said: “I would challenge any 777 pilot to fly the 787 and notice a handling difference”.

    A lively question and answer session spanned a myriad of issues covering the handling and performance of both aircraft, composites, lighting strikes, open systems architecture, engine testing lessons learnt to date.