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Boeing Concludes New Round of Wind-tunnel Tests for 747-8 Family


Seattle (BOEING) - The latest round of wind-tunnel testing for the new Boeing [NYSE: BA] 747-8 family of airplanes concluded recently, marking another milestone for the program launched last November by Cargolux Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines.

Boeing is on track to meet its firm configuration date of October this year and deliver the first 747-8, a freighter, to Cargolux in September 2009.

The latest tests included high- and low-speed lines development and fine-tuning of the noise characteristics on the fully integrated airframe.

"The focus of these latest tests was to finalize the aerodynamic lines of the airplane and begin the development of design loads," said Roy Eggink, chief engineer -- Product Development, 747-8 Program.

The high-speed model of the 747-8F is a 3 percent scale model of the airplane measuring about 2.2 meters (87 inches) long with a wing span of 1.8 meters (74 inches). The low-speed model of the 747-8 is a 5 percent scale model. More than 3,000 hours of wind tunnel time have been logged to date in the development of the 747-8.

The recent series of four major wind tunnel tests ran in parallel at three wind tunnels in Seattle -- the Boeing Transonic Wind Tunnel (BTWT), Low Speed Acoustic Facility and Nozzle Test Facility -- and at the QinetiQ wind tunnel in Farnborough, England.

Nozzle tests on the airplane's GEnx-2B67 engine will continue for the remainder of the development period, which is June 2006 for firm configuration for the engine and third quarter of 2007 for first engine test.

New features that will be adopted as a result of wind-tunnel testing include a partial fly-by-wire flight-control system that directs electrically signalled spoilers for maneuver load alleviation, as well as drooped ailerons for approach and landing.

Work at the BTWT included testing the final high-speed design. Eggink said the next round of testing that takes place will include high Reynolds number tests at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames facility in Mountain View, Calif., and will conclude in the second quarter of 2006. "High Reynolds number" refers to a higher-pressure tunnel that offers conditions closer to those of actual flight. This tunnel is more expensive to operate than other wind tunnels, but allows structure engineers to design parts to tighter tolerances. The 747-8 wind tunnel model will then return to the BTWT for more tests in the run-up to final configuration freeze.

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