Friday, August 14, 2009

Another moment to groan...another 787 structural flaw

My good friend, Flightblogger, aka Jon Ostrower has done it again. He broke the news that Boeing had issued a stop work to Alenia manufactured fuselage barrels due to wrinkles that formed in the stringers of the fuselage barrels for airplanes 7 through 29. Flightblogger cited a Boeing memo (on Boeing letterhead) that was obtained and dated June 23rd. The flaws are traced back to the manufacturing process of the two barrels (section 44 and 46) in Grottaglie, Italy. According to Boeing, a fix has been identified and the patched should be applied soon. The patched would be applied to the the outside of the fuselage to provide structural strength in the areas supported by the stringers.

Boeing told me that the patch fix is permanent to airplanes 7 through 29 and with airplane 30 the fix is incorporated by adding additional plies of composite tape to the skin prior to going into the autoclave during the manufacturing process. The patch won't incur any weight or aerodynamic penalties. Boeing said they have no timetable for the resumption of manufacturing at Alenia.

What is a little disconcerting is that the stop work order was issued on June 23rd which is the same day that Boeing announced the postponement of first flight due to the side of body structural flaw. While Boeing announced the side of body issue, there was no mention of the wrinkling issue found in the fuselage barrels. Now according to an article in Bloomberg by Susanna Ray, Boeing spokeswoman said that “It didn’t have any material impact on the program in schedule or cost, so there was no reason to discuss it publicly.” Clearly Boeing has been burdened by bad news after bad news on this program and is trying to limit the amount of negative publicity on the 787 program. However with news like this coming out the way it did, Boeing's credibility has dropped another notch.

Flightblogger Report

Bloomberg 787 report

Other 787 News

Guy Norris is reporting that taxi test for ZA002 can conduct it's ground taxi tests as early as this weekend pending a safety walk down. Guy also said that this will be the last taxi tests conducted by any 787 until the side of body fix is installed on ZA001. Other than that the next major event to happen will be the installation and testing of the side of body fix on the static air frame (ZY997). The parts are supposedly on the way to Everett if not already there.

Guy's August 13th/14th update

Earlier this week Flightblogger outlined the location of the the aircraft in at Everett:

ZA001 - In the paint shop where it will undergo the installation of the parts to fix the structural issues.
ZA002 - Boeing flight line where it will conduct ground taxi tests and then will be prepped for installation of the fix.
ZA003 - In building 40-23 (747 assembly line) waiting for side of body fix
ZA004 - In building 40-26 (787 line) waiting for side of body fix
ZA005 - In building 40-26 behind ZA006 waiting for side of body fix
ZA006 - Boeing flight line waiting for side of body fix
ZA100 - In building 40-26 behind ZA005 continuing final assembly activities and waiting for side of body fix
ZA101 - In building 40-26 behind ZA100 starting final assembly activities
ZA102 - Wings, horizontal and vertical stabilizers and rear fuselage in back of building 40-26.
ZY997 - In building 40-22 undergoing repairs and waiting for side of body fix
ZY998 - In building 40-23 (747 assembly line) waiting for side of body fix

Read Getting Oriented

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