Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dreamliner 4 circuit around the country and potential 787 production woes resurfacing?

ZA004 undertook a very long 13+ hour test flight that took it around the country yesterday to test the 787s to test...of all things... the fuel gauge of the aircraft. According to Flightblogger, the test (which I initially thought was an ETOPs flight) was to see how the Fuel Quantity Indication System. The test added a large amount of flight test time to the 787/RR test flight fleet and bought them closer to the 2,430 flight hours needed to certify the 787/Trent 1000 engine combination and allow for deliveries to start to ANA. The Trent 1000 powered 787 test flight fleet has accumulated well over 1,900 flight test hours thus far and the total 787 flight test hours has exceeded 2,100 hours leaving 1,000 flight test hours needed to complete the test flight program.

Flightblogger: 787 goes cross country to check the gas gauge

While the test flight program continues to make progress, there are signs of production troubles on the 787 final assembly line. ZA233, the 29th 787s to be assembled was initially supposed to start final assembly on Oct. 4th. It was pushed back to late October, then early November and now I got news that it won't start assembly until around November 17th...over 6 weeks late. To add to the mystery, Matt Cawby got video of a rear and forward 787 fuselage sections being loaded back on to the 747 LCF in Everett instead of being offloaded. Now the LCF did not depart Everett so my guess is that they might be being stored on board the 747 LCF. I am hoping to hear from Boeing about any production pauses on the 787 line and what reloading of the fuselage sections on the LCF may mean.


skywalker said...

Uresh, I read an interesting tid-bit in the Dominic Gates article on horizontal stabilizer production. Excerpt:

Now, even as tail work continues on the planes inside the factory, the tails of the flight-test airplanes are being further modified, said Dreamliner program spokeswoman Lori Gunter.

"We are working our way through it," said Gunter. "We have completed a couple of them."

Boeing executives and engineers are in Italy trying to sort out the problems.

Could it be that more Alenia workmanship problems have been found so that production must be halted to rework the planes in the production system?

Rajib said...

May be the S41 nose section and the S47+S48 tail section we saw in Matt's video are connected to the Alenia S44 and S46 sections that were unloaded a few weeks ago?

Uresh said...

It is possible that the delay in final assembly might be connected wtih issues a Alenia but at this stage it is hard to say. I'm still trying to find out. The signs are troubling.

wiederling said...

I am still wondering if the workmanship issues originate solely from Alenia or stem from lack of sufficient defining depth for parts as provided by Boeing.

At Boeing lots of construction and manufacturing details seem to have been _silently_ added by shopfloor personel.

Thus vital details seem to have never made it to those outsourcing partners.