N415XJ
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787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:23 am

I just remembered that a few years ago my Dad told me that, while on a trip to Southern California, he had seen the 787 Dreamliner in flight. The only problem is that this was in either 2010 or 2011, before it had taken it's official first flight in 2012. Knowing this, I told my father that he must be mistaken and that he had perhaps seen a 777 or 767. However, he was adamant, stating that he knew it was the 787 due to its distinctive wingflex and nose shape. Also, I believe he said it was painted in the blue Boeing livery. My father is no avgeek, but he is a very, very frequent flyer with a mild interest in aircraft, and I know from firsthand experience that he is good at recognizing different types of planes.

I still do think that he made a mistake and saw a 777-200 instead. But it got me thinking.... The 787s first flight was very widely publicized, and was viewed by thousands of employees, enthusiasts, and even had its own live feed on CNN. If the aircraft had experienced some sort of technical failure, it would have been an absolute PR disaster for Boeing. So, in my mind, it would make sense if they gave it a quick test run to make sure that everything was OK before the big day. Am I completely wrong here, and is the idea of a 'fake' first flight inconceivable? Or maybe was there an "actual" first flight before the widely publicized one that is known about in the aviation community here that I missed (not sure how I would have though).
 
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Polot
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:40 am

The 787s first flight was in December 2009.
 
N415XJ
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:51 am

Quoting Polot (Reply 1):

Ok, my mistake. For some odd reason I thought it first flew in 2011. I was basing the dates on that assumption, as it was quite a few years ago. However, regardless of the date, the point is that my father claims to have seen the 787 fly before the official first flight. I should have stated in the OP that he knew that the 787 had yet to take its first flight when he saw it.
 
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hOMSaR
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:57 am

The type's first revenue flight was in 2011. Maybe that's what you were thinking of.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word.
There is no 787-800, nor 787-900 or 747-800. It's 787-8, 787-9, and 747-8.
A321neoLR is also unnecessary. It's simply A321LR.
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zkokq
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:02 am

Boeing wouldnt have been able to sneeze at the airfield the days leading up to the test flight, left alone send a 787 out on a fake test flight.

Keep in mind before they send these things up, they simulate a flight on the ground in the plane as well as alot of ground tests.
 
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ER757
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:16 am

Quoting N415XJ (Thread starter):
is the idea of a 'fake' first flight inconceivable?

In a word - yes.
As stated in reply #4 there is absolutely no chance the plane could have "snuck out" of PAE without anyone noticing, then gotten down to California, flown in full public view (otherwise how would your Dad have seen it) and then ferried back to PAE for the "official" first flight.
 
BruceSmith
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 7:58 am

The first test flight was December 2009, there was a plane flown to Florida in April 2010 and it was at Farnborough in July 2010. It's very possible that the test program flights took aircraft over Southern California during that period. Your dad is in all likelihood correct.
 
N415XJ
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 11:50 am

So, I just spoke with my Dad about this, and he said that he saw it while he was at a big hotel in Newport Beach. Because he was right in the middle of a big city (and not, perhaps, driving out in the country somewhere like I had thought may be the case), I'm guessing that he saw it after the first flight. Still, I think that its interesting to think about a 'fake' first flight. If Boeing were to do something like this, I'd imagine that they would quietly send the plane out in the middle of the night a couple of months before the first flight, then run a dress rehearsal, so to speak, at a remote (or perhaps even military) airport where the chances of anyone seeing it are very low, then bring it back again at night. The whole thing sounds very conspiratorial, I know, but in my mind it's not entirely impossible.
 
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Stitch
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:59 pm

The closest I can think to a "fake first flight" is the Tu-144, which made it's first flight in complete secrecy in case something had gone wrong.

As the flight was a success, news of it was subsequently released to the public.  
Quoting N415XJ (Reply 7):
The whole thing sounds very conspiratorial, I know, but in my mind it's not entirely impossible.

At least in Boeing's case, it is entirely impossible. You may not be familiar with Boeing's factory in Everett, but a highway runs directly next to it and it is therefore in full view of the public 24 hours a day. And since Boeing makes their airplane moves at night to minimize impact on said highway (as people slow down to watch - especially when a plane crosses the bridge over the highway), there are almost always photographers on hand every evening to take pictures.  Smile

[Edited 2015-04-25 07:01:04]
 
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hOMSaR
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:06 pm

The whole thought of a new commercial type having a secret (or "fake") first flight in the middle of the night fails common sense on at least three points.

First, if the idea is that the manufacturer wants to make sure everything will go smoothly on the public first flight, well, that's what the thousands of hours of wind tunnel testing, engineering testing, ground testing, simulator testing, etc. is for. While they are constantly looking for improvements, aircraft design these days is a fairly known quantity, and with all the preflight testing, they should already have an idea of what the plane will do in the air.

Second, if the thought (not necessarily raised in this thread, but I've read folks make similar suggestions in the past, and used this as an argument) is that they don't want the plane to crash on its first flight because it would be a PR nightmare, well, such a crash would be a PR nightmare regardless.

Lastly, I'd figure that for a plane's first flight, you'd want it done in daylight. That way, if something does go wrong, it's easier for relevant parties (pilots navigating, crew on the ground inspecting the plane, etc.) to see what's going on.

Unless the plane is some security-sensitive military development, there really is no point in hiding a first flight.
The plural of Airbus is Airbuses. Airbii is not a word.
There is no 787-800, nor 787-900 or 747-800. It's 787-8, 787-9, and 747-8.
A321neoLR is also unnecessary. It's simply A321LR.
Airplanes don't have isles, they have aisles.
 
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MrHMSH
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:10 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
The closest I can think to a "fake first flight" is the Tu-144, which made it's first flight in complete secrecy in case something had gone wrong.

I may need clarification, but I'm certain that I once read about the YF-16 protoype having an unofficial first flight to avoid damage, they decided to fly rather than risk damage, and the flight lasted 12 minutes.
 
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TheRedBaron
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:42 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
The closest I can think to a "fake first flight" is the Tu-144, which made it's first flight in complete secrecy in case something had gone wrong.

As the flight was a success, news of it was subsequently released to the public.  

That flight was a success but afterwards it was a disaster in Paris, don't you find it ODD that the 2 supersonic airliners both crashed nearby Paris?

Quoting MrHMSH (Reply 10):
I may need clarification, but I'm certain that I once read about the YF-16 protoype having an unofficial first flight to avoid damage, they decided to fly rather than risk damage, and the flight lasted 12 minutes.

The YF16 first flight was unintended, they were performing taxi tests and the engine was so powerful at idle that the aircraft became airborne, it was the unofficial unintended first flight...

Maybe the 787 made a fake first flight and they used the covert flight to spray Chemtrails on the west coast !!!.

In this day and age were everyone has a camera, I think its next to imposible to pull off a first flight without nobody noticing...

TRB
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fraspotter
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:10 pm

Quoting TheRedBaron (Reply 11):
That flight was a success but afterwards it was a disaster in Paris, don't you find it ODD that the 2 supersonic airliners both crashed nearby Paris?

When the Concorde was flying scheduled flights to just 3 locations (JFK, CDG, LHR) during the last part of it's career I would have to say no.

The Tu-144 crashed at the Paris Airshow. A large and very popular airshow that gives manufacturers an opportunity to show off their new products. Unfortunately it crashed and people were killed. It happens. Definitely not the only air crash to happen at an airshow. Then in 2000 Air France Concorde crashes on take off. JFK, CDG and LHR. Not exactly a long list of locations that a Concode crash could happen at.
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TheRedBaron
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:30 pm

Quoting fraspotter (Reply 12):
The Tu-144 crashed at the Paris Airshow. A large and very popular airshow that gives manufacturers an opportunity to show off their new products. Unfortunately it crashed and people were killed. It happens. Definitely not the only air crash to happen at an airshow. Then in 2000 Air France Concorde crashes on take off. JFK, CDG and LHR. Not exactly a long list of locations that a Concode crash could happen at.

Well BA flew to MEX for a few years, at 8000 feet above sea level and very hot, I guess that landing and take off is a lot more scary, but I agree the Concode and the TU 144 flew to very few places

TRB
The best seat in a Plane is the Jumpseat.
 
Jetstar315
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sun Apr 26, 2015 12:20 am

Boeing 787-8 ZA001 Reg,N787BA was rolled out on 26 June 2007 and had its first flight on 15 December 2009. Hope this helps!
 
BoeingGuy
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:16 am

Quoting N415XJ (Reply 7):
So, I just spoke with my Dad about this, and he said that he saw it while he was at a big hotel in Newport Beach.

Sounds like your dad has some learning to do about airplanes. The 787 has never been to SNA, which is the only airport near Newport Beach.
 
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7BOEING7
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:20 pm

Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 15):
Sounds like your dad has some learning to do about airplanes. The 787 has never been to SNA, which is the only airport near Newport Beach.

I don't know, LGB (Long Beach) is a little less than 20 miles north of Newport Beach, has an RNAV approach that would put you over Newport Beach at 2400 ft and is a Boeing facility -- totally possible.
 
cargolex
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:21 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 8):
At least in Boeing's case, it is entirely impossible. You may not be familiar with Boeing's factory in Everett, but a highway runs directly next to it and it is therefore in full view of the public 24 hours a day. And since Boeing makes their airplane moves at night to minimize impact on said highway (as people slow down to watch - especially when a plane crosses the bridge over the highway), there are almost always photographers on hand every evening to take pictures.

This.

I only moved to Seattle in 2009, and only started photographing aircraft in early 2010. I saw the first flight from I-5, and there's no way it could've been kept a secret.

Here's the second flight of ZA005, which was one of the first photos I uploaded here:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © A. Kwanten



Back then, there were about 15 people who were regular photographers, and a slightly larger number who were casual spotters.

The photos from the 787 program, I think, gave a ton of exposure to planespotting in the Seattle area (people already knew it was big here, but it gave it even more national and global attention).

Now there are many dozens of photographers here - literally a dozen or more parked up at the airports day after day. People have literally moved to the area to engage in the hobby.

Even if Boeing sent a plane out at 3 am, somebody would be there to capture it.
 
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Stitch
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RE: 787 Flight Before 'official' First Flight?

Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:22 pm

Quoting 7BOEING7 (Reply 16):
I don't know, LGB (Long Beach) is a little less than 20 miles north of Newport Beach, has an RNAV approach that would put you over Newport Beach at 2400 ft and is a Boeing facility -- totally possible.

Well a 787 did make a visit to the C-17 FAL at Long Beach as part of Boeing's announcement of increasing their commercial airplane engineering force at Seal Beach, but said visit was in 2014.

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