Wednesday, March 31, 2010

787 review and look ahead

Now that the first quarter of 2010 has come to an end, it seems like a good time for a brief review and a look ahead.

Thus far the 787 flight test fleet has accumulated over 406 test flight hours (through March 31st) spread over 134 flight. ZA001 has conducted most of the test flight as expected with ZA002 conducting the second most flights.

There is some concern amongst many followers of this program (including articles in the Wall Street Journal) that the 787 hasn't been flown enough to achieve the needed flight test hours for certification. Boeing has said that the test flight program will entail 3,100 flight hours spread across the 6 test airplanes. In order for Boeing to have the necessary hours by mid November which is 32 weeks from now (I picked mid-November as it will allow Boeing enough time to get the production 787 ready for customer delivery by Dec. 31, 2010...another 6 weeks) they would need to fly the test fleet at a clip of 82 hours per week starting now.

James Albaugh has stated that the 787 test fleet would be flying around 90 hours per week starting around the middle of this year. However, if Boeing is to meet it's 787 delivery target that it has set for itself, then it would need to start flying longer 787 sorties starting now. Currently, Boeing is averaging a little over 3 hours per flight through the 134 flights that have been conducted thus far. Boeing does plan on flying longer flights but that probably won't occur until the FAA has issued the Type Inspection Authorization that is needed to formally kick off the certification process. That was supposed to have happened by today as of the time I'm writing this post it has not occurred.

Flight Test Look Ahead
In the meanwhile, ZA001 continues to fly test flights. ZA002 is in the midst of upgrading it flight software to the Wedge 5.5 version that ZA004 had recently tested on the ground and in the air. This is the service-ready version of the 787 flight software. It is anticipated that ZA002 should be back in the air by the end of next week (around April 9th). Both ZA003 and ZA004 should both be flying again by Saturday, April 3rd. ZA005 is on the Boeing flightline, preparing for it's first flight and should be flying around May 8th. This will be the first flight of the GEnx-1B on the 787. The last flight test aircraft (also equipped with the GEnx-1B), ZA006, should be in the air by June 4th and is currently in building 40-24.

787 production continues apace with an important milestone taking place yesterday. LN 20 (ZA175), a 787 for Japan Airlines, started final assembly. This is the first weight optimized 787 to enter into final assembly and is introducing a major block point change with weight savings incorporated into the aircraft.

Boeing is slowly ramping up 787 production and the next aircraft LN 21 (ZA176) will enter final assembly around April 12th thus ZA 175 would be in position 1 for about 2 weeks before pulsing to the next assembly position. The dramatic reduction of traveled work (two words that hasn't been mentioned in some time) certainly has helped as well as the learning curve when it comes to assembling the 787s. Now the concern is managing the change incorporation process of the existing production 787s though Boeing does have a plan for that.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Boeing confirms success of 787 Ultimate Load Test

Boeing Photo

Hours after conducting the ultimate load test, Boeing announced that the test has been completed successfully based on preliminary examination of the data. It will be a few more weeks of detailed analysis by Boeing structural engineers. The wings were deflected to 25 ft high during the test. Once the data is analyzed by Boeing it will be sent to the FAA as part of the certification program. This is a huge hurdle that Boeing overcame especially in light of the side of body issue that was revealed over 6 months ago. Here's Boeing's press release:

Boeing Completes Ultimate-Load Wing Test

EVERETT, Wash., March 28, 2010 – Boeing today completed the ultimate load wing up-bending test on the 787 Dreamliner static test unit. During the testing, loads were applied to the airframe to replicate 150 percent of the most extreme forces the airplane is ever expected to experience while in service. The wings were flexed upward by approximately 25 feet (7.6 meters) during the test.

Initial results of the ultimate load test are positive. More extensive analysis and review are required before the test can be deemed a success.

“The test program has been more robust than any conducted on a Boeing commercial jetliner,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “It has taken countless hours of hard work by the Boeing team and our partners to work through the static test program. Everyone who has been involved in this effort over the past several years should be very proud of their contributions to ensuring the safety of the 787 Dreamliner.

“We are looking forward to the technical team’s report on the details of the test results,” said Fancher. It will take them several weeks to work through all of the data.

During each second of the more than two-hour test, thousands of data points were collected to monitor the performance of the wing. Key data points are monitored real-time during the test, but all of the data will be evaluated in the weeks ahead.
The next major milestone is the issuance of the Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) that will kick off the formal certification of the 787 by the FAA with their inspectors and engineers flying on board the 787 during the certification test flights. That is expected any day now, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Guy Norris, Flightblogger and Saj Ahmad also posted info on the 787 ultimate load test. Here are the links for your reading pleasure:

Guy Norris: Wing ultimate load test complete on 787

Flightblogger: Confirmed: ZY997 completes 150% ultimate wing load test

Saj Ahmad: Boeing 787 Wing Test Milestone Completion

787 ultimate load test to be conducted today

Boeing Photo
UPDATE (6:21 PM on March 28th): Flightblogger just tweeted that the test has occured and that indications are that the wing had passed the 150% ultimate load test with no funnies. Good news!
Boeing has scheduled the ultimate load test for the 787 wing today, March 28th. the test was to occur between 10 AM and 12 noon Pacific Time. Since it is past that time there is still no word on if the test was conducted and the results (if any).

In order for the test to be undertaken today, Boeing cleared buildings 40-22 (747 assembly), 40-23 (static test) and the 40-24 buildings of all personnel except for the test engineers that are sequestered in a "bomb shelter" in building 40-23. This is in case the wing fails before it reaches the 150% load threshold. Boeing doesn't plan to break the wing above the 150% threshold.
I am still waiting to hear about results but until then here's a great article from Bloomberg about the 787 ultimate load test.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

787 News Round Up

The 787 program continues apace with the pending TIA for the 787. Production continues with a new milestone set to take place on Monday, March 29th. That day the parts for LN 20, which is the first weight optimized 787, will be loaded into the assembly tool at position 1 in building 40-26.

The aircraft, ZA175, is destined for Japan Airlines with GEnx engines. The line will move on March 28 with LN 16 coming out and going to the paint hangar. Also on that day Boeing will hopefully be conducting the extremely important ultimate load test on ZY 997. Currently, Boeing is conducting tests on the static air frame in a build up to the ultimate load tests this Sunday. Mike Mecham of Aviation Week has a great blog post describing the ultimate load test.

Mike Mecham : The final wing bend (hopefully)

In other news, LAN airlines confirmed news that was already known...that they will take some of the early 787s. In total they're moving up the delivery of 10 787s with LN 10 and LN 16 due to be delivered in about a year from now during the 2nd quarter of 2011. Here's LAN's press release:

LAN Will Be One of the First Airlines in the World to Receive the Boeing
787 Dreamliner

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- LAN Airlines S.A. ("LAN" or "the Company") (NYSE: LFL; IPSA: LAN), one of the leading airlines in Latin America, and its subsidiaries today announced that the Company signed an agreement with Boeing to adjust the delivery of ten Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners to be incorporated into the Company's long haul fleet. This new delivery schedule anticipates by three years the arrival of this aircraft, previously scheduled for 2014 and now expected starting in the first semester of 2011.

In this way, LAN becomes the first airline in the western hemisphere to receive the Dreamliner, which is expected to revolutionize the airline industry, incorporating the most advanced technology. These ten aircraft are part of the original order for 26 Boeing 787s placed by LAN in 2007 and previously scheduled for delivery between 2014 and 2019. In addition, LAN has outstanding orders for six leased Dreamliners.

The Boeing 787-8 undertook its first flight in December 2009 and is expected to begin commercial operations in 2010. It has the capacity to seat approximately 250 passengers, providing a unique in-flight experience due to innovative technological advances featured inside the aircraft cabin. In addition, Dreamliners are fuel efficient and ecologically friendly, providing a significant reduction in emissions.

The Dreamliners will assist in the renewal and growth of the Company's long-haul fleet, allowing LAN Airlines and its subsidiaries to serve international destinations, improving connectivity between Latin America, Europe and the United States.

Mr. Enrique Cueto, LAN's Chief Executive Officer, stated, "The incorporation of the Boeing 787 ensures the Company's sustainable growth while preserving the environment and incorporating state-of-the-art technology to deliver the best travel experience for LAN's passengers. LAN looks forward to incorporating this new generation of aircraft in the first half of 2011."

"Partnering with LAN Airlines, one of the world's great air carriers, is an exciting way to introduce the 787 to the flying public. We look forward to seeing the Dreamliner fly with LAN's livery. The 787 Dreamliner represents one of those rare generational advancements in powered flight that will provide superior operating economics, compelling environmental performance and unique passenger comforts. LAN and its passengers will be among the early beneficiaries of these enhancements," said Marlin Dailey, Vice President Sales Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Flightblogger says that LAN will be joining the likes of ANA, Air India, Continental, JAL, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian, China Southern and Royal Air Maroc as operators of the 787 by 2011. Read Jon's post:

LAN confirms early 787 arrival

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flightblogger: Ultimate Load Test to be conducted on March 28th

Boeing Photo
An important test for the 787, called the ultimate load test, will be conducted by Boeing on the static test air frame on March 28th. This test is important as it will validate Boeing's wing design to withstand 150% of the limit load that the wing will experience. This test is required by the FAA as part of the certification of the aircraft. Passing this test means that a huge hurdle in the design of the aircraft has been passed.

This test comes on the heels of the side of body fix that was needed on all the 787s to strengthen the join between the wing and the center wing box of the airplane. Without the fix, Boeing would have failed the ultimate load test. It had previously passed the limit load test though there was some delamination of the composite material.
The test will be conducted ZY997 which is the static test air frame.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Flightblogger 787 Flight Test Review

Flightblogger has put up an update along with pictures and video of the current 787 progress to date. In it he describes what has been done and what is in store for the immediate future with the 6 test airplanes as summarized below:

ZA001 : Completed flutter testing and is now commencing high speed stability and control testing.
ZA002 : Still in Victorville after completing ground effects testing but is due to return to Boeing Field tomorrow, March 23rd.
ZA004 : Will finish up flight testing of the version 5.5 service ready software today, March 22nd and then will go into a period of extended ground testing
ZA003 : Going through a planned post first flight layup. I'm not sure when she's due to fly again.
ZA005 and ZA006 : Still at Everett Field with ZA005 due to be moved to paint shop soon for aqueous wash of it's fuel tanks. Word I've gotten is that ZA005 won't be in the air until around May 8th and ZA006 won't fly until around June 4th. These are estimates by the way.

Flightblogger: 787 Flight Testing Month 3 (Plus 7)

Lastly, there's a great article taking a look inside the 787 telemetry room at Boeing Field. The article is authored by Jason Paur of Autopia. This is great for those of us who don't really understand the goings on of flight testing of a new commercial airliner.

A Look Inside the Brains of Boeing 787 Flight Test

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Boeing Completes Flutter and Ground Effects Testing on the 787

Boeing Photo
Boeing announced (through Randy Tinseth's blog) that they had completed flutter and ground effects testing. Boeing engineers had looked at the data from flutter tests and the results are as their model had predicted. This data is being submitted to the FAA as part of the requirements for the TIA, the Type Inspection Authorization.

The TIA will allow FAA inspectors and engineers on board the 787 for certification testing which starts after the issuance of the TIA. There is no word on when Boeing will receive the 787 TIA but it is expected before the end of this month.

Boeing had expected to complete this phase of the flight test program by mid February. Thus they are about a month and a half behind but still have some margin left in the flight test program schedule.

Certification testing is the longest part of the test flight program and will probably last until October or November depending on progress.

Here are a couple of links on this news:

Autopia: Boeing 787 Completes Critical Flutter Testing

Randy's Journal : Flutter and ground effects

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three Months In

Boeing Photo

Three months into 787 flight testing Boeing is slowly ramping up the number of airplanes to the test flight fleet with the recent addition of ZA003 to the test flight program yesterday. However, through three months since ZA001 took flight, the program has accumulated just shy of 307 flight hours spread across 101 flights and 4 test airplanes.

Boeing has indicated that the program will need 3,100 flight hours (3,700 ground test hours) for full testing and certification. Additionally, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group chief, James Albaugh, said that by mid year the test flight fleet will be flying about 90 hours per week on average.

Given the 307 hours already flown (not even 10% of the total needed) three months in, Boeing would need to fly another 2,793 hours. Assuming another 8 months for those flight test (taking us to mid November, 2010), then Boeing would need to fly about 350 hours per month on average or over about 88 hours per week across the test flight fleet.

Mind you that right now there are 4 test airplanes in the fleet with some planes flying less hours than others given the flight test assignments for each airplane. For example, ZA003 will log significantly fewer hours in the air due to the cabin testing it will be doing versus ZA001. Thus much of the flight testing would fall on ZA001, ZA002, ZA004 and the unflown ZA005. ZA005 won't be flying until early May and ZA006 won't be flying until early June according to sources. Thus if Boeing plans to deliver by the end of the 4th quarter (they would need time to flight test the production airplanes as well as incorporate any changes that are needed), they would need to get more aggressive with flight testing as they are flying, on average, about 96 hours per month granted that flight testing has ramped over of the months. Boeing has achieved 100 test flights in the 3 months since ZA001's first test flight.

In December, the 787 flight test program logged 18 hours and 57 minutes across 5 flights. That averages about 3 hours and 47 minutes per flight.

In January, the flight test team logged 47 hours and 23 minutes across 13 flights. That is an average of 3 hours and 38 minutes, slightly lower than December.

In February, the 787 was flying 136 hours and 40 minutes across 46 test flights. That is an average of 2 hours and 58 minutes of flying time which is dramatically lower than January.

Through the first 15 days of March, the test flight fleet has flown 103 hours and 50 minutes over 37 flights. This equates to an average of 2 hours and 49 minutes per flight....even lower than February.

Thus utilization of the test flight fleet has been decreasing since first flight. If Boeing hopes to certify and deliver the 787 then the aircraft test flight utilization has to dramatically increase.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Busy Day for Boeing Flight Test....Again!

Boeing Photo
Boeing Flight Test Group is getting areal workout today by sending the 4th 787 (ZA003) and the 2nd 747-8F (third 747-8 built) into the air today. First up was ZA003. This aircraft, which will test the aircraft's cabin systems and is equiped with a representative cabin layout, took off from Everett Field at 10:52AM PT and flew over eastern Washington State. ZA003 landed at Boeing Field about 1:52PM PT. It had been airborne for a little over 3 hours.

Boeing has released a press release about ZA003's first flight. Here's the press release:

News Release Issued: March 14, 2010 7:22 PM EDT

Fourth 787 Joins Boeing Flight-Test Fleet
EVERETT, Wash., March 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has added the fourth 787 Dreamliner to its flight-test fleet with the completion of the first flight of ZA003. The airplane departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 10:55 a.m. (Pacific time) and landed at 2:01 p.m. at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Captains Ray Craig and Mike Bryan piloted the airplane on its three-hour-and-six-minute flight. ZA003 is the final 787 with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines to enter the flight-test program.

"We've done a significant amount of ground testing on the new systems on ZA003 in preparation for first flight. Engineering, manufacturing and flight operations have really pulled together as a team to enable first flight," said Craig. "It has been very rewarding to watch the Boeing team pull together in support of this milestone."

ZA003 is the only 787 in the flight test fleet that will include elements of the passenger interior features including cabin and crew support systems. The 787 is introducing new passenger amenities and provisions for a more comfortable flying experience. Among the new features are improved lighting, bigger stowage bins, larger windows with electrochromatic shades and redesigned lavatories with easier access.

In addition to demonstrating that the interior meets certification requirements, ZA003 will be used to conduct tests on systems, noise performance, flight-deck operations, avionics, electromagnetic effects, high-intensity radio frequency response and extended operations (ETOPS).

"The Boeing team is doing great work. We've established a good pace of accomplishment on the program," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The priorities are clear and the entire team is focused."
In the meantime, while ZA001 and ZA002 have been flying test flight, ZA004 has been used as a ground test article, for the time being, for the "service-ready"version of the 787 software, according to Flightblogger. The software includes tweaks to correct issues found during test flights of the 787. The testing that ZA004 is required by the FAA prior to the issuance of the Type Authorization Inspection certficate that will allow FAA inspectors and engineers on the 787 for certification test. According to Flightblogger, ZA004 should return to the air by tomorrow and will do some more ground testings followed by more flight testing at Victorville. Additionally, Flightblogger revealed that ZA005 and ZA006 should be flying by the end of April.

Service-ready 787 software tested ahead of TIA

Guy Norris also wrote a great update on the 787 and 747-8 flight testing progress to date:

Guy Norris' 787 and 747 Flight Test Update

ZA003 take off form Everett Field - Video Courtesy of Matt Cawby

787 ZA003 First Flight from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

Boeing Photo
Later this afternoon, RC522, the third 747-8 built took offf from Everett for it's first test flight and the second 747-8 to fly. The aircraft is registered N50127 and took off at 3:55PM PT. As of 6:06PM PT, the aircraft is still airborne though it does look like it's going to land at Boeing Field. I'll try to find out more about this if I can. the 747-8 test fleet is to be based out of Moses Lake Airport,initially and later on will be based out of Palmdale, California. It's sistership, RC501 flew a brief test flight this afternoon and the 2nd 747-8 (RC521) will fly tomorrow, March 15th, from Everett Field. Here's Boeing press release (according to which, Capt. Kirk was at the controls:

News Release Issued: March 15, 2010 1:21 PM EDT

Second Boeing 747-8 Freighter Completes First Flight

EVERETT, Wash., March 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A second Boeing (NYSE: BA) 747-8 Freighter, RC 522, successfully completed its first flight Sunday evening. The airplane took off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., for a two-and-a-half-hour flight and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Captain Kirk Vining was at the controls for the flight, with Rick Braun operating as co-pilot and Joel Conard serving as systems operator. The airplane reached an altitude of 27,000 feet (8,230 m) and an airspeed of 240 knots, or about 276 miles (444 km) per hour. It took off at 3:57 p.m. PDT and landed at 6:25 p.m.

"The airplane performed well on its first flight," said Andy Hammer, test program manager for 747-8. "It was a good start to a demanding flight-test program for this airplane."

This is the second of three 747-8 Freighters being used in the flight-test program. Each
airplane will be used for a specific set of tests, with this airplane focusing on community noise, environmental control systems and extended operation performance standards.

The airplane will begin its flight-test program at Boeing Field before transitioning to Palmdale, Calif.

Friday, March 12, 2010

747 and 787 flight test update

So a couple of things coming out.

ZA003 first flight window opens at 10AM PST on Sunday March 14th (I'll be away skiing so I won't be able to cover it).

ZA004 was expected to return to flight tests this week but now it's been pushed back due to more ground tests at Boeing Field. Still no word on when it'll return to the air. As you may recall, after first flight ZA004 is spending some time on the ground for flight test equipment installation and calibration as well as for further ground tests. Boeing really needs to get this airplane back in the air soon given the testing that has been assigned to it.

Lastly, Randy Tinseth got up two nice posts on it, one on ZA002 and the testing at Victorville as well as one one the747-8 flight testing. The last two 747-8F will both be in the air in the next five days.

Randy's Journal: Hotel California

Randy's Journal: 13 flights, 33 hours

Forbes is bullish on Boeing

Forbes put out an article today which is bullish on Boeing. The cite not only that they expect Boeing to reap $18 billion on revenues from the 787 4 years from now but the revenue stream from the 747-8 program will also be strong.

Forbes: Boeing Now Boarding

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boeing: 747-8F completes initial airworthiness test

Boeing Photo
Boeing announced that the first 747-8, RC501 has completed the initial airworthiness tests. This now means that flight test engineers can fly aboard as well as allowing the other two test flight airplanes to fly which is expected on March 15th and March 17.

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

News Release Issued: March 11, 2010 8:00 AM EST

Boeing 747-8 Freighter Achieves Initial Airworthiness Milestone

MOSES LAKE, Wash., March 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has completed initial airworthiness testing on the 747-8 Freighter. This milestone enables test engineers to be on board during future flights and allows the remaining two 747-8 Freighter test airplanes to begin flight test.

"The airplane is performing as expected in the initial stages of flight test," said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "That's a tribute to the men and women who helped design and build this airplane."

Since the first flight in early February, the program has conducted 13 flights, achieving several key accomplishments. Pilots have taken the airplane to an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 m) and a speed of Mach .65. The program has completed approximately 33 hours of flying. Initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers have been run, as well as an extensive checkout of the airplane's systems. Five different pilots have flown the newest Boeing freighter.

"This is a critical milestone in our test and certification plan," said Andy Hammer, test program manager for the 747-8, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "With the addition of the other two airplanes in the near future, the test program will ramp up significantly. We will expand the flight envelope and demonstrate the airplane's capabilities."

In the weeks ahead, the 747-8 Freighter will reach an altitude of more than 43,000 feet(13,106 m) and a speed of Mach .97. Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

Flight testing will continue in the months ahead. All told, the 747-8 Freighter test program calls for approximately 3,700 hours of testing using three test airplanes. First delivery is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

Boeing has secured 108 orders for the 747-8, 76 of which are orders for the new freighter. Cargolux, Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air all have placed orders for 747-8 Freighters.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Some other 787 tidbits

Trying to get some more infomration on a slow new day today.

ZA001 will be taking to the air today for another flutter test flight today.

Matt Cawby reported in a post that ZA102 (LN 9) has finished its side of body modifications that were done in the Everett flightline tent.

Matt Cawby's 787 Update - March 9

This aircraft will be moved in the next couple of days to building 40-24 to one of the 767 slant positions on the 767 final assembly line to finish reassembly activities. The aircraft that is there now, ZA005 (LN 5) will be moved out to the flightline. Speaking of which, Dreamliner 5 and Dreamliner 6 won't be making their first flights until the 2nd quarter so that mean we won't see the GEnx-1B airplanes up until April at the earliest. ZA530 (LN 10) will be moved into the flightline tent to begin its side of body modifications.

ZA002 has landed in Victorville for a few weeks of flight testing then it'll be back to Boeing Field.

Here's Boeing's press release:

News Release Issued: March 9, 2010 3:59 PM EST

Boeing 787 Begins First Flight-Test Operations Outside of Washington

VICTORVILLE, Calif., March 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The second Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner, ZA002, landed at 10:53 a.m. local time today in Victorville, Calif. This marks the beginning of the first flight-test operations outside of Washington state for the program.

The airplane will be stationed at Victorville for approximately three weeks. The crew will conduct ground effects testing among other activities.

During ground effects testing, the pilots fly the airplane very close to the runway to gather data regarding the aerodynamic effects and performance of the airplane during the takeoff and landing phases of flight. Quantifying this performance is part of the certification requirements for all new airplanes.

"Victorville's airfield is the former George Air Force Base," said Randy Neville, chief pilot for ZA002. "There is ample ramp space for parking and plenty of on-site facilities. There is a long runway and plenty of level, clear land along the approach to the runway. We can operate there without disrupting air traffic control or other commercial aircraft."

A crew of more than 150 employees will be stationed at Victorville while the airplane is there.These include the flight test engineers and support personnel required to prepare the airplane for each day's flights and to monitor performance and test equipment.

"Our confidence in the reliability of this airplane grows day by day," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "Taking the airplane out of state for the first time is a big step, but one we're ready for."

Albaugh speaks at JP Morgan Aerospace Conference

James Albaugh, Boeing Commercial Aircraft President, spoke at a JP Morgan Investors conference this morning. Here are a few snippets:
  • 787 should receive the TIA (Type Inspection Authorization) by the end of this month (March).

  • Boeing right now putting out 2 787s per month will be up to 2.5 airplanes per month by August, 2010 and up to 10/month by end of 2013.

  • ZA003 should fly this Sunday (confirms what I had reported earlier here)

  • ZA001 reached speeds of around M0.97 (in a dive) during testing.

  • Expects first 787 delivery from Charleston in 1st quarter 2012

  • Boeing has used up some of the 787 flight testing contingency and had about one to one and a half months of contingency left in the test flight program.

  • New 747-8 coming "on line" on March 15, 17 (this means that Initial Airworthiness Testing is complete by then so that the two remaining 747-8 test airplanes will be in the air next week).

In other news, ZA003 ran its engines yesterday on the Boeing flight line and should be conducting its gauntlet testing towards the end of this week followed by first flight on March 14th. ZA002 has departed this morning for Victorville where it will continue flight testing.

A bit of surprising news is Boeing's award of 747 LCF Dreamlifter operations from Evergreen International to Atlas Air.

Unsurprisingly, Evergreen International is upset but their contract was for 35 years but is renewable every 5 years and it was due for renewal this year. Here's an article focusing on Evergreen's reaction.

Also, unsurprisingly, Flightblogger is reporting that the LCF contract was given to Atlas as part compensation for the delays to the 747-8F, 12 of which Atlas has ordered. Atlas is due to take over LCF operations from Evergreen this September. Boeing will retain ownership of the 4 LCFs.

Flightblogger: Sources: Dreamlifter Deal Part of 747-8 Compensation to Atlas : Boeing's Big Choices

Monday, March 8, 2010

Repubic of Iraq orders 10 787-8

Today Boeing revealed the buyer of 10 787-8, purchased on Dec. 22, 2009, being the Govt. of Iraq. These airplanes will presumably be going to the state owned airline, Iraqi Airways. The airline is experiencing a renewal in light of some stability returning to Iraq and more projected demand for travel to Iraq as the US military leaves that country.

The order was listed on Boeing Order's and Delivery site:

Boeing's December 2009 order detail

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Flightblogger: ZA002 going to So. Cal.

Flightblogger is reporting that ZA002 will fly to Victorville, Ca. this week as part of the 787 flight test program. The Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) is in the high desert of southern California and has a a long 15,000 ft runway and dry weather which would be ideal for Boeing to conduct flight testing.

It is not known when or how long ZA002 will beat Victorville or if other 787s will be joining it but the certification test program has the 787 test fleet making trips away from Boeing Field at times.

Flightblogger : Roadtrip! 787 heading for Victorville this week.

Through today's test flights, the 787 fleet has racked up slightly over 250 test flight hours across the three plane test fleet. ZA00 s expected to return to the air very soon (possibly by the end of this coming week) and ZA003 is expected to take to the air for the first time around March 14th. ZA005 should follow soon after that.

Continuing the roadtrip theme, Guy Norris at Aviation Week is reporting on his blog that Boeing is seriously considering sending the 787 AND the 747-8 to the Farnborough Air Show this summer. It would the first time since 1982 that two new Being Commercial Air products would be featured at the air show. Of course, all this hinges on how well the test program goes for both these airplanes.

Guy Norris: Show Time!

Guy also reports on the upcoming trip for ZA002 to California as well as updates on the rest of the 787 flight test fleet. Of note is that ZA003 will have it's two day gauntlet test this week. This would corroborate a flight test date of March 14 for this airplane.

Guy Norris : 787 Heads South

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dreamliner 3 to fly around March 14; BCA Chief Talks

Sources have told me that ZA003 should fly (penciled in) around March 14th and Dreamliner 4 should return to the skies within the next one week after installation of more flight test equipment. Meanwhile the 787 test fleet is still racking up the hours with yesterday's test flights pushing the total test flight hours to over 225. Dreamliner 1 go to as fast as 0.96M at 33,000 feet in a test flight conducted on March 3, 2010.

Seattle Times reporter Dominic Gates had a revealing interview with Boeing Commercial Airplane group head Jim Albaugh.

Here's the extended interview:

In it he says Boeing prefers to build its commercial airplanes in the Puget Sound region of Washington State but only if they can get labor peace from IAM and SPEEA. The prospects of labor unrest is what motivated Boeing to locate the second line to Charleston, SC. Also very revealing is that Boeing will now dial down the 787 business model for future aircraft programs and not outsource as much work as they did for the 787. This will include the design, testing and production of the wings. Boeing will return more of the engineering in house for parts of the aircraft such as flight controls, composite fuselage and the wings. The outsourcing was driven more by business decision making rather than engineers making those decisions.

You can read the entire article below:

Dominic Gates' Interview with James Albaugh

Monday, March 1, 2010

787 exceeds 200 flight hours; 18th 787 starts final assembly

As Boeing continues to pile on 787 flight hours, it has also started final assembly of the 18th 787 destined for ANA.

Dreamliner 1 continues to rack up the most flight hours and mos flights with 39 flights that has accumulated almost 138 flight hours through March1, 2010. The 787 test fleet has accumulated almost 210 flight hours.

Boeing also started assembly of Dreamliner 18 after line move yesterday. Look for Boeing to start assembly on LN 19 and LN 20 (I don't have the ZA numbers yet). The later aircraft is an important milestone as it is a new block point that incorporates weight saving measures in an effort to lower the weight of the airplane. The 787-8 is still overweight but Boeing still hopes to find further areas where they can take out weight as the flight testing progress.

Because of the addition of ZA004 to the test program, Boeing will have valuable data to finalize the design of the 787-9 which is the stretched version of the 787-8. The -9's wing will be the same as that of the 787-8 but Boeing is hoping that test flight information from ZA004 flight tests will yield important information when designing the 787-9. Flightblogger has a blog post up tonight describing the 787-9 progress to date. In the article he says that the first 787-9 will be designated ZB001 but will be LN 139.

Flightblogger: Driving Forward on the 787-9 design

Guy Norris also put up an update on the 787 flight testing as well as the 747-8 flight testing. Guy sasy that ZA001 has flown 11 flutter tests (now 12) while ZA002 continues with stability and control flight testing. ZA003 should also start the run up to gauntlet testing next week.

Guy Norris : 787 and 747 test update