Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I want for a 787 schedule

That's is probably want Boeing's 787 customer base is singing this holiday season. Yet Boeing doesn't seem any closer to issuing their revised schedule or say when test flights will resume. There does seem to be a lot of ground testing going on and Boeing is preparing ZA102 for its first flight though right now it is conducting extensive ground tests including starting it engines for the first time on Dec. 22nd. However that is little comfort with the airplanes still stuck on the ground and the certification test flights on hold.

There is a report that Boeing may have solved some of the electrical issues to the satisfaction of the FAA which may allow Boeing to resume test flights as early as this weekend, I believe this is doubtful as Boeing is basically shutdown from Dec. 24th through January 2nd for the Holidays. A source has told me that they were looking to resume test flights around Dec. 23-24th but now this is looking doubtful. Boeing has been in very frequent (daily) meeting with the FAA over the resumption of test flights and certification though. However it may not be too much of a stretch that Boeing has resolved issues to the FAA satisfaction. Boeing Japan President, Michael Denton, has said that Boeing is expected to announce a return to test flights soon though he didn't have an update for the delivery schedule.

The fact that Boeing maybe returning to test flights soon is good news the fact that they may still be weeks away from announcing when deliveries would start is troubling. It may indicate that the real issues are the unfinished work, supplier problems and on going engineering changes which won't be improved upon to support a near term delivery schedule.

The FAA is coming down hard on Boeing to such an extent that ETOPS certification out of the box may be in serious jeopardy according to Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times.

In an article that was published 5 days ago, Dominic described the amount of work that has to be done on the Dreamliners that are already assembled. His sources have told him that there about 140,000 incomplete items on all these airplanes that have yet to be done, either in Everett or in San Antonio where crews will put the 787s through the change incorporation program and prepare these airplanes for delivery. One 787 (one for Air India) has been on the Boeing flightline without the horizontal stabilizer indicating that Boeing is still dealing with the poor workmanship from Alenia.

Dominic Gates: Dreamliner's woes pile up

Boeing to boost 777 output 66 percent by 2013 amid 787 delays

Lastly, Flightblogger has published an extensive article on the 787 business case. In it he describes how the deep discounts that Boeing gave on the 787 has put Boeing under fiscal pressure to make a profit on this program. The discounts were on the order of around $65mm that was given to one large airline who placed a very large order. Boeing had calculated that the program would cost about $5bn and now estimates are for around $12bn - $18bn additional after factoring in cost overruns, compensation to customers, and additional resources needed to finish all the outstanding work.

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