SEATTLE -- It was well before dawn at 5:30 a.m. Thursday when Boeing’s sixth 787 test airplane touched down at Boeing Field. Another record was in the book - an around the world flight that left from Boeing Field just after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
There was only one stop - for one hour, 53 minutes in Dhaka, Bangladesh, almost exactly half way through the trip. The Dreamliner spent a total of more than 40 hours in the air. The first leg took 20 hours and 30 minutes, the second leg back to Boeing field was just over 20 hours.
Boeing said the flight sets the record for speed eastbound around the world, at a total of 43 hours including the pit-stop, and for distance in 787s size class. The previous record was held by the Airbus 330.
“We want people to know what these airplanes can do,” says pilot Rod Skaar, who has planned out several of these trips in the past, including a record setting 777 flight in 1997 with a production airplane that holds a similar record in its respective weight class and is a larger jet than the 787.
Because it was a test aircraft, the interior on this plane is Spartan, with about a dozen seats in the cabin and bare floors. Six pilots rotated flying duties in four hour shifts, each spending about 16 hours at the controls. The plane is equipped with General Electric engines.
The trip was monitored by Kris Meynard with the National Aeronautic Association based in Washington, D.C. He will produce a report that will be sent to an organization in Europe that is expected to put the official international stamp on the records.
“That one flight (from Seattle to Dhaka) was 10,336 nautical miles, unofficially,” said Meynard.
The NAA was formed in 1905 to certify records in the early days of aviation when flights were short and hazardous. Wilbur Wright was among the first members.