Final test-version 787 nears first flight

Nine months after the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifted off from Everett’s Paine Field, the final test version of the twinjet is getting ready for its first flight.

The plane, numbered ZA006, ran its engines for the first time Wednesday in Everett. Now the plane will enter a series of ground tests before taking to the skies for the first time.

Why the final plane has taken so long to join the test fleet isn’t clear. It is one of two of the six that is powered by General Electric engines. The four others are Rolls-Royce-powered.

When the aircraft finally joins the test group, Boeing plans to use it to test the 787’s extended-range operations and its resistance to lightning and other electromagnetic interference.

Two more test aircraft apparently will join the test cadre this fall as Boeing raises the throttle on its flight-testing regimen to meet an already-postponed delivery date of the first quarter next year. Those two planes weren’t part of the original plan.