The Boeing Company’s new 747-8 Intercontinental reached a milestone on January 8th when the aircraft underwent “factory gauntlet testing” according to Boeing’s website. The gauntlet testing was performed inside its factory in Everett, Washington, and was comprised of an array of simulation scenarios. The aircraft was attached to a flight simulator to allow test pilots to observe the same motion information as it would during an actual flight.
The gauntlet test is a significant milestone on the way to the first flight of the 747-8. It is designed to “affirm readiness” by testing all onboard systems as they work together. Four Boeing test pilots participated in the gauntlet testing for the 747-8 passenger aircraft. The aircraft’s computer network was wired to a simulator in a van located near the aircraft, which allowed the aircraft to receive the same data that would be observed during an actual flight. Inside the cabin of the aircraft an engineering team monitored real-time measurements on hundreds of channels to track the aircraft performance.
Captain Mark Feuerstein is the chief test pilot and was in the pilot seat during preparation for the first simulated flight. According to Boeing’s website, Captain Feuerstein said that they wanted to ensure that “the airplane was turning, climbing, leveling off, and capturing altitudes.” Boeing engineers wanted to make sure that systems were running as expected and if there are any issues that require investigation. Although it will take several days to review all of the collected flight data, engineers are encouraged by the initial performance of the Boeing 747-8 systems working together.