"TAIPEI, Sept. 09, 2006 -- The Boeing [NYSE: BA] 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter took to the skies for the first time at 10:38 a.m. (UTC/GMT +8 hours) today, initiating the flight test program that will culminate in U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.
The two-hour, four-minute flight was the first of 250 expected flight test hours for the unique freighter, a specially modified 747-400 that will transport major composite structures of the all-new 787 Dreamliner.
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 (formerly Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport). Boeing flight test pilots, Capts. Joe MacDonald and Randy Wyatt, took the airplane north, and then flew roughly 150 miles south following along the east side of the island before heading north again."
"After completing initial flight tests in Taiwan, during which the airplane's handling characteristics will be evaluated as well as ensuring the LCF is free from flutter and excessive vibration, the airplane will fly to Seattle's Boeing Field to complete the remainder of the flight test program. The ferry flight to Seattle is expected to occur mid-month. 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."
Images, text courtesy Boeing.com