Friday, September 10, 2010

787 Flight Test Time Exceeds 1,800 hours; ZA006 starts its engines; Boeing possibly moving more 787 production in house

Lotsa headlines since I haven't posted over the last week.

There's been a good amount of progress with the test flight program over the past week with 4 of the 5 787 flying from remote locations around the world. ZA001 has been flying out of Edwards AFB and later Roswell Air Center for take off and landing trials. ZA002 was in Iceland until last Wednesday getting crosswind testing under the 787's belt. ZA003 is still in Yuma, Arizona undergoing its hot weather flight testing. ZA004 is still doing flight loads survey testing out of Victorville, California. ZA005 is the only 787 to stay at Boeing Field though it was rejoined by ZA002 by mid week.

Thus far the test flight team has accumulated over 1,800 flight hours and in the first 9 days of September has flown over 130 hours which is on pace to put the 787 at 400 flight test hours if this current trend continues. That would be the most flight hours flown in one month since May which saw over 329 flight hours flown. Boeing has been flying the 787 with more frequency lately and they seem to be making good headway with the test flight fleet.

ZA006, the last of the test airplanes finally turned on its GEnx-1B engines for the first time. This aircraft's first flight has been delayed by about four months due to many small unspecified issues that cropped up. The airplane is expected to go through gauntlet testing soon and the latest I've heard for first flight is September 24th. This aircraft will be testing electromagnetic effects, high intensity radio frequency testing and ETOPS (extended twin engine operations) testing.

An article by Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing is expanding its composite development and manufacturing center in Puget Sound area. This expansion, initially will support the manufacture of test sections for the 787-9 but may be used to supply the horizontal stabilizers (part that Alenia has built and whose workmanship issues have helped pushed the 787 entry into service into 2011) and wings when Boeing is planning increase the monthly output of 787s to 10 per month though the article says that Boeing Japanese and Italian suppliers will continue to manufacture those parts. Boeing is saying that no decisions have been made with respect to bringing more manufacturing in house.

Additionally, Dominic reported that a separate facility will be built in Salt Lake City, UT to build the vertical tail fins for the 787. Currently, the Boeing facility in Frederickson, Wa is only facility to manufacture the vertical fins. With the planned increase in 787 production to 10/month, this facility will provide the vertical fins to support that increase.

Dominic Gates: New Boeing plan: Expand work in Seattle

Early in the month, Flightblogger had a blog post reporting that Boeing will be retiring the large tooling tower that is used to assemble the 787 in the first position on the 40-26 final assembly building. The tool, known as MOATT, has apparently not lived up to its expectation and instead Boeing will use cranes and other traditional assembly processes to snap the 787 together. Additionally Boeing is working through the horizontal stabilizer issues at Alenia especially making sure that the workmanship issues do not reappear as well as reworking the first 26 horizontal stabilizers if they need rework. Currently, Boeing is in a production hold with airplane 27 in final assembly. Airplane 28 is not expected to start final assembly until later this fall thus allowing the rest of the supply chain to catch up and to eliminate travelled work going into Everett.

Flightblogger: Boeing continues search for 787 production equilibrium

Lastly, there is an interesting article out on Boeing San Antonio and the work they'll be doing to prepare 787s for delivery to customers. The summary is that some of the 787s will be flown to San Antonio in order to incorporate final system and mechanical changes into the 787 before the aircraft gets their interiors and are delivered to customers. Boeing has planned that San Antonio would do some of the change incorporation work based upon the flight tests that are now on going. There's no date when the first 787 will be sent for change incorporation but some airplanes will undergo change incorporation in Everett while some will have it done in San Antonio.

Boeing S.A. to troubleshoot 787

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