Boeing preps for first 787 test flight

Boeing preps for first 787 test flight »Play Video
SEATTLE -- The Boeing Co. hit a milestone on July 8, 2007 when it rolled out its 787 Dreamliner, the company's first new passenger plane in 13 years.

It was to fly just months after the roll out, but the company's only just now reaching that milestone on Tuesday, more than two years after the rollout.

The excitement started building over the weekend when pilots put the aircraft through taxi testing, one of the final steps to launching the 787 from dream to reality.

"Awesome. It's good to see the airplane moving," said Byron Muck, watching the taxi testing.

Byron and Kim Muck, both retired Boeing workers, joined dozens of others who stood in the cold for hours, snapping photos.

"I think I got some of the smoke off the tires," said Jonathon Hamstra, another face in the crowd.

In order for those tires to lift off, the pilots need nearly clear skies, gentle or no wind and no standing water on the runway.

If the weather's prime, Boeing's ready to shake off its past problems that delayed the flight of the Dreamliner.

The company was short on parts, and had to make design changes. There was a major production problem from a South Carolina plant when a contractor used the wrong fasteners. And there was the Machinists strike that lasted nearly two months.

"Everybody was kind of doubting the company when they...you know, with all the delays and what not, but there were delays with all the programs with minor things. It's part of the growing process for the airplane and for the composite," said Byron Muck.

The plan is for the 787 to take off from Paine Field in Everett in the morning and then land at Boeing Field in the afternoon.

Completing that first flight is a major milestone, but certainly not the end of the process. Chances are the flight will reveal issues that must then be addressed.

"Every first flight is an experimental test, so there's always the possibility that something could go wrong," said flight blogger John Ostrower.

This first flight is only the beginning of about 8 months of test flights.