Boeing Chief, Jim McNerney said during the third quarter earnings conference call that the 787 flight testing is in the final stages. Flight testing has picked up in the last week as the 787s have racked up just under 2,100 flight hours and the number of hours needed to certify the Trent 1000 powered version of the 787 is down to under 550. Another important milestone on the 787's road to certification is completion of the required number of simulated flight cycles on the fatigue test airframe (ZY998) for first delivery. Boeing will continue to fatigues test the 787 airframe for the next 3 years but they needed to get a certain number of cycles completed before they delivered the first airplane to ANA. All this work was done on the ground at Everett. Boeing has reiterated its intention to delivery the 787 in mid 1st quarter 2011. McNerney also said that Rolls Royce has a hardware and software fix to prevent the recurrence of the uncontained engine failure that took place in Derby, UK in early August.
Still ahead for the 787 is the all important ETOPS type certification where the specific engine-airframe must be approved for ETOPS flights mainly across the Atlantic and Pacific. Later each individual carrier must get it ETOPS operational certificate. This testing is expected to get underway around January.
In the meantime Boeing continues production of the 787s at Everett. McNerney said that supplier shipments are picking up. Boeing has had to slow down production twice this year in order to allow the supply chain to catch up and reduce the travelled work coming into Everett. Boeing is expected to start final assembly on ZA233 (LN 29) a 787 for Air India.
Lastly, Boeing is talking about bringing production of the horizontal stabilizers for the 787-9 back in house according to Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times. Boeing is still finding workmanship issues coming out of Alenia. According to the article, Boeing has found more issues on the test flight airplanes as well as a few of the production airplanes. A couple of the test flight airframes have been fixed and they're working through the others. I wonder if this was the reason the 787s didn't fly as much between mid September and mid October? You can read Dominic's article here:
Dominic Gates: Boeing considers building 787-9 horizontal tails in-house
Finally, Flightglobal has an article out saying that Boeing believes that the majority of 787 orders will be for the 787-9 model. This is supported by many of the order conversions from the 787-8 to the 787-9 by airlines. You read the article here:
Flightglobal: Bigger 787 variant to boost order share: Boeing