tip off
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Boeing 787-9 on way to hot date in Alice Springs

An earlier Flighaware capture of the 787-9 en route to Auckland

The first Boeing 787-9, which will after testing become an Air New Zealand jet, is on its way to Auckland, the first stage of a tour which will take it to Alice Springs for trial hot weather operations.

This is the first long range international excursion of the stretched version of the Dreamliner, which is also under option by Qantas.

The Seattle-Auckland stage, with a nominal flight time of just under 14 hours, can be tracked on Flightaware here.

It is provisionally due in Auckland at around sunset local time, which will occur at 8.44 pm.

On Monday the jet, which will not be fitted with Air NZ specified cabins for some months, will fly to Alice Springs.

This is how the NZ 787-9 would appear in All Black Livery: Air NZ graphic

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  • 1
    ggm
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The paint job is going to make for some differential thermal expansion effects wing/body…

  • 2
    Mark Newton
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    You’re not wrong, ggm.

    The main reason composite aircraft such as gliders and Jabirus are white is because epoxy loses strength at high temperatures, leading to delamination during expansion/contraction on hot days.

    One of the long term issues I’m keeping an eye out for with composite airliners is whether the manufacturers cone out with any suggestions (or mandates) regarding the albedo of the sun-exposed upper surface of the structure.

    Obviously the manufacturers will be using different resins for their applications; but that doesn’t solve the problem, it merely adjusts the problem’s parameters. Has thermal breakdown of the resin been rendered impractical? Only time will tell.

    UV exposure is another cause for structural weakening, but the defence against that is to keep the paint in good condition, something maintainers of metal airliners already do for corrosion mitigation purposes.

  • 3
    Dan Dair
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Over the short to medium term,
    does anyone know what, how & who will be monitored/monitoring these composite airframes.?
    There’s a mass of data on metal airframes and next to none on large pressurised aircraft.
    Boeing & Airbus have used different construction/assembly methods, so:
    Which is going to be the best,?
    or are they going to be about the same.?
    If so, who will be monitoring AND reporting on this.?

  • 4
    Bear
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    These are all highly unsettling comments, I have to say. Two issues come to mind… Firstly, does anyone know if there has here been any real progress in resolving the lithium battery issue vis a vis fire prevention (as opposed to very time-limited mitigation); secondly, mindful of the location where the Ethiopian 787 burned through at LHR last year, with that black upper fuselage surface absorbing all that heat, would it not be more prone to a repeat of the LHR melt-through?

  • 5
    whiskeyalphalimalimadashecho
    Posted January 4, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Bear, the 787 CFRP barrels are baked in a high pressure and temp autoclave. One would imagine that it would take a more than a gentle in-ops roasting over time for the barrels to unwind. Understand parts of the SR-71 were in some parts plastic and F-35 mostly. Did the Blackbird melted at Mach 3? JSF is in trouble as well due to its composite skin? Presume Boeing Defence passed on some materials logic from participation in DoD programs? Let’s hope 50 years of aerostructure composites technology counts for something.

  • 6
    Dan Dair
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    whiskeyalpha, etc, etc
    The issue relating to the military stuff is that much of these airframes aren’t actually pressurised, so there’s not really much relevant data to be transferred to any civil equipment.
    I would be much happier with these airframes if there was a clear & published programme of monitoring and reporting for the structural testing.

  • 7
    Bear
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Whiskey— , my questions were only related to structural integrity insofar as the infamous battery fire and/or internal moisture condensation issues affect integrity.

  • 8
    whiskeyalphalimalimadashecho
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Let’s hope the FAA and the OEM can detail this before the NTSB does. Would be an interesting D-check. Re pressurisation, would be interesting as the 78 barrels are load bearing, and the 350 is effectively a conventional aerostructure. Structural fatigue or delamination on a high cycle loaded barrel, now that would be one to watch.

  • 9
    Bear
    Posted January 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    …watch? But not if I or any of my loved ones are aboard at the time; and that’s my great concern with the 787, which I still believe will be the DH Comet of our era.

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