“I am very happy with the situation here and the reception we have received from air traffic control, other airport staff members and all those who have assisted us,” says Randall Lee Neville, a Boeing test pilot visiting Iceland with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The delayed Dreamliner planes are currently in the testing phase, with five of the sleek new passenger jets already having flown and a sixth expected soon.
Randall Lee Neville told mbl.is that the reason for testing at and near Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport is to test the jet in cross winds and to simulate difficult conditions for the auto pilot and other systems to deal with – he says the tests are successful so far. the five aeroplanes have been tested extensively in recent months, including a long flight from Boeing’s Seattle base to the North Pole and back. That is the Dreamliner’s longest trip to date and took 16 hours.
Boeing hopes to deliver the first B787 to All Nippon Airways early next year. Icelandair is also among the airlines waiting for new Dreamliners.
When production goes into full swing in 2013, Boeing will produce 10 new Dreamliner aircraft per month. Two types of Dreamliner will be available: the B787-8 for up to 250 passengers, and the B787-9 which will take up to 290 passengers.
The five jets produced to date have flown a combined 1,600 hours in 540 separate trips. The planes are tested in especially hot places, in particularly cold places, and at unusually high altitudes. The plane’s equipment is also tested in difficult conditions; including in Icelandic cross winds.
Randall Lee Neville says that the tests are not yet over and the planes will also have to fly with representatives of American, Canadian and European aviation authorities before going into regular service.
He wished to specially thank Icelandic authorities for their help and said that he feels at home in Keflavik, having been stationed there for the US Air Force in the 1970s. Boeing has tested previous new planes in Iceland, including the large B777.