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Originally published Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 12:15 PM

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Boeing will refurbish flight-test 747-8s in Texas

Boeing said Thursday it plans to refurbish its five flight test 747-8 freighter jumbo jets in San Antonio, Texas, after they complete the testing program.

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

quotes This is not some back-alley job that can be done by casual labor. It is a complicated... Read more
quotes Pulling test equipment off of a bunch of planes can be relegated to 3rd party types but... Read more
quotes The nice thing about working under FAA Specs is it generally includes nap time. Read more

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Boeing said Thursday it plans to refurbish its five flight test 747-8 freighter jumbo jets in San Antonio, Texas, after they complete the testing program.

The first plane will be sent to Texas next month. Mechanics there will remove all test equipment, incorporate any design changes flowing from the flight tests, and convert the planes to usable cargo freighters that can be delivered as new to customers.

Due to the massive amount of re-work necessary on the 787 Dreamliners that rolled out earlier onto Paine Field, Boeing has run out of room to complete the 747-8 refurbishment in Everett, said company spokesman Marc Birtel.

"We determined we don't have the physical capacity in Everett to do the work," Birtel said.

Sixteen completed 747-8s that aren't part of the flight-test program are now parked outside on the flight line in Everett. In addition, some 26 Dreamliners are being re-worked either on the flight line, inside the factory or in a hangar on the south end of Paine Field leased from maintenance and repair company Aviation Technical Services.

Last month, Boeing flew the first of six Dreamliners overflowing from the Everett flight line to San Antonio, where the company operates a big aircraft maintenance and repair operation mostly for military jets.

Boeing said then that it will hire about 450 temporary employees to work alongside some 1,700 experienced workers at the San Antonio site to complete the commercial aircraft re-work.

The freighter version of the 747-8 jumbo jet is scheduled for first delivery to Cargolux of Luxembourg this summer. Flight tests are continuing toward that goal, with the five freighter models plus one passenger version in the air.

The 787 Dreamliner is expected to have its first delivery in July or August.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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