By Peter Clark
It's Sunday 13 December and I have just arrived in Seattle to witness the first flight of the B787 Dreamliner.
It was snowing when my aircraft touched down after a flight from San Francisco, following an overnight flight in an Air New Zealand B777 from Auckland.
All media attention is now on Seattle and is around the first flight of the B787. The B787 Dreamliner first flight is now officially set for 10:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Tues., Dec. 15 at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., subject to weather conditions. The time equates to Wednesday 0500 Sydney, and 0700 Auckland.
In general, Boeing policy for first flight weather conditions calls for good visibility, no standing water on the runway and gentle or no winds.
The first flight is planned for five and half hours and is the start of months of extensive and sometimes dramatic performance tests to qualify the aircraft for the Federal Aviation Administrations approval to fly commercial passengers.
The first flight kicks off a nine month intense flight testing programme using six test aircraft.
Some 600 engineers will analyse the flight data, with thousands more specialists being available to troubleshoot any issues.
Around 400 mechanics will do maintenance on the aircraft at night to ensure the test aircraft are ready to fly every morning.
All going well with the flight test programme, the first aircraft will be delivered to ANA of Japan at the end of 2010. After the B787 roll out on 8 July 2007 and after many frustrating delays the B787 is now finally ready to fly.
This was nearly seen on Saturday with test pilot Mike Carriker completing high speed taxi tests and he lifted the nose gear off the runway.