Thursday, April 29, 2010

787 undergoing thermal tests in San Antonio

Boeing Photo

ZA003 flew from Eglin Air Force Base to Lackland Air Force Base yeasterday where the aircraft will under go therrmal test particularly wheel well thermal tests. According to Boeing ZA003 will be in San Antonio for two days but it is expected to be the first of many visits of the 787 to Lackland Air Force Base.

Boeing will also use the facility to perform modifications on some of the 787s that are being produced.


Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Dreamliner Arrives in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO, April 29, 2010 – The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its first landing in San Antonio, April 28 at Lackland Air Force Base. A crew of approximately 70 people traveled onboard the airplane from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida where ZA003, the third 787 airplane to be built, successfully completed a series of extreme-weather tests. Additional thermal test data will be collected while in San Antonio.

Boeing has already announced that modification of some 787s will be done at the San Antonio site.

“It’s great to have the 787 in San Antonio,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Commercial Airplanes. “We are excited to be working with the team there. This is just a short visit for testing but we will be back with more airplanes.”

ZA003 is expected to stay in San Antonio for about two days.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

787 undertaking long duration flight tests

ZA004 has been engaged in long duration test flights over the last couple of days with two flights that lasted about 9 hours each. A source told me that these flights are performing steady state performance certification testing as well as laminar flow evaluations. ZA004 is in the air again today for another long duration test flight. The FAA is on board for these test flights. In other news, it is expected that ZA003 will be making the flight from Eglin Air Force Base to San Antonio for further hot condition environmental testing. It has successfully completed the testing at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory.

Lastly, Randy Tinseth put up a blog post addressing the temporary suspension of part deliveries into Everett. Boeing is delaying the shipping of the next two 787s (LN 23 and LN 24) due to parts shortages going into the suppliers.

Randy Tinseth : Temporary adjustment to 787 supplier deliveries

Seattle Times gives more details on 787 production halt

Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times wrote an in depth article giving more details on Boeing's decision to temporarily halt 787 part deliveries into Everett.

Among the details is that Dominic reveals is that some major suppliers are shipping sections that have the inside that are only 60% complete. This is leading to travelled work being done at Everett which Boeing had experienced early in the program. This time the part shortages are related to changes in the design of some parts in order to save weight. Some suppliers are still implementing the engineering changes to the parts.

Dominic's article has a lot of great details about the situation:

Dominic Gates: Boeing suspends delivery of new 787 sections to Everett

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Boeing suspends 787 shipments for one month

Boeing has halted 787 part inflows into Everett for one month to allow its supplier partners to catch up on work on which they had fallen behind. The halt is to last 24 production days (4 full weeks plus 4 full days which will allow the suppliers to catch up to work for the follow on airplanes starting with LN 23 for JAL. There is some part shortages as well as some engineering changes that the suppliers have incorporated but need more time to fully get up to speed on them.

Work will continue on all the airplanes at Everett though so there won't any slow down of the pace of work there. LN 19 through LN 22 are in various phases of production with LN 22 just starting the final assembly process. Thus far all the planned deliveries are unaffected as Boeing has some production schedule margin built in.

Flightblogger, HeraldNet and the Seattle PI have stories on this late breaking news:


Breaking: Boeing halting 787 deliveries to Everett until June

Boeing 787 suppliers play catch up; Dreamliner work in Everett continues

Boeing holding 787 Dreamliner section shipments for 24 days


In a related story, a local Seattle TV station, King 5 News, says that Boeing is filling up the Everett flightline with built 787s that won't be able to be delivered until the certification is achieved. They are starting to run out of room at Everett an will soon store them at parking spots all around Everett Field including new the Future of Flight Museum.

Boeing problem: Too many 787s, not enough room

Lastly, a 747-8 breaking story. I was told earlier this evening that Boeing is now going to have a fourth 747-8F join the flight test program. The decision was just recently made. Boeing will now use LN 1424 (2nd production 747-8F, RC502) for test flights. This aircraft won't be equipped with test flight instrumentation and will conduct engineering test flights. No word on when it will join the test flight fleet. Currently it is parked out on the Everett flightline and is unpainted.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ZA004 flies to Victorville with FAA on board

The start of the 787 certification with the FAA is underway. ZA004 flew today from Boeing Field to Victorville with FAA inspectors aboard. They'll be flying during Sunday and Monday at least with the FAA on board down in California as part of the certification test flights.

Earlier, ZA004 took off at 9:40AM Pacific Time but Matt Cawby reported that it returned 25 minutes later due to a transponder issue. It was presumably fixed as ZA004 took off again at about 12:18PM Pacific Time and landed at around 1:33 PM. It took off for the last time at 4:18Pm and landed at Victorville at about 6:02 PM.

You can see Liz Matzelle's photos from today's flight activity at Boeing Field here.
Thanks to Liz Matzelle and Matt Cawby for helping to fill in some of the blanks from today's activities!

Friday, April 23, 2010

News from around the 787 world

As the weekend approaches I'm finding out that ZA115 (LN 22) will start final assembly on Monday, April 26th. In advance of that ZA150 (LN 17) the first 787 for Royal Air Maroc was pulled out of the paint hangar and is now on the Everett Flightline at spot 102. I'm hoping to get some pictures soon. It will be the first 787 painted in a livery other than ANA.

There will be a line move presumably this weekend with ZA108 (LN 18) going to the paint hangar to be painted in the livery of ANA and thus making room for the airline's next airplane (ZA115).

In flight test news, I'm hearing that ZA002 should return to the air in about one week and ZA001 should be flying in about 2 weeks. ZA004 is doing some ground tests and should fly tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE!! The Seattle PI has a great picture (with more to come) of the first 787 painted for Royal Air Maroc. Special thanks to Aubrey Cohen and the Seattle PI for the shout out!

Seattle PI: First Boeing 787 Dreamliner for Royal Air Maroc out in Everett

Matt Cawby has a great picture of the RAM 787 on the ramp at Everett. Click HERE for the pic.

Liz Matzelle posted some wonderful pictures from Paine Field this afternoon Check it out HERE

Current 787 Production and Disposition Tracker

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Boeing Announces 787 extreme weather testing

Boeing Photos
Boeing announced the start of extreme weather testing on the 787. It now appears that Boeing will conduct both cold weather as well as hot weather testing at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base. ZA003 is expected to be there for about two weeks. The aircraft will be subjected to extremes in temperatures and then technicians will go through and do a simulated preparation for flight to see how the systems act after being exposed to temperature extremes. This will not be the only extreme weather testing for the 787. There will be more testing which will probably also involve flight testing in the temperature extremes. Here's

Boeing's press release:News Release Issued: April 22, 2010 4:21 PM EDT

787 Dreamliner Undergoing Extreme-Weather Testing in Florida

VALPARAISO, Fla., April 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner has begun a series of extreme-weather tests at Valparaiso, Fla. A special hangar at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Elgin Air Force Base allows the airplane to experience heat as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius) and as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 Celsius).

After the airplane is stabilized at either the hot or cold temperatures, flight test technicians will follow the Airplane Maintenance Manual to perform the steps required to prepare the airplane for flight release and operate under these conditions. Sensors and monitors will allow the test team to determine if all systems hardware and software operate as expected.

Cold-weather testing is being conducted first, with preliminary hot-weather testing to follow. Additional extreme-weather testing will be conducted later in the flight test program.

"We have Dreamliner customers who will operate the 787 in a wide variety of environments throughout the world," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This testing is about ensuring that the airplane meets the expectations of our customers."

A crew of approximately 100 people traveled from Seattle to support the test operations on ZA003, the third 787 airplane to be built.

The McKinley Climatic Laboratory is the second remote testing location for the 787 Dreamliner. The second airplane in the fleet, ZA002, performed a variety of tests in Victorville, Calif., last month. The testing in Florida is expected to last nearly two weeks.

About the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new twinjet designed to meet the needs of airlines around the world in providing nonstop service between mid-size cities with new levels of efficiency. The airplane will bring improved levels of comfort to passengers with larger windows, bigger baggage bins and advances in the cabin environment, including lower cabin altitude, higher humidity and cleaner air. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.
Fifty-seven customers around the world have ordered 866 787s since the program was launched in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Boeing also has a great video of the aircraft going through the deep freeze in the ice locker.
Guy Norris has an article on Aviation Week reviewing the 787 testing thus far including the extreme weather testing now on going:

Boeing talks 787 progress and possible 777 upgrade

Boeing Photos
Jim McNerney, speaking on Boeing’s earnings conference call, says that flight testing of the 787 is on track and that Boeing still plans to deliver the 787 as planned by the end of the year. The 787 just received its expanded Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) from the FAA which means that the certification flights tests will begin. While this will be the longest (and most important) phase of the test flight program it also means that a lot of the risk in the 787 program has been retired. Boeing says that the aerodynamic configuration of the 787 is now fixed and that there won’t be any need for changes in the shape of the aircraft. Now essentially the FAA has to collect data for them to be assured that the aircraft is safe to operate in regular passenger service.

Another 2,600 hours?

To date, Boeing has accumulated over 500 flight test hours on the 4 test airplanes (the final two should be in the air in late May and mid June). That leaves about 2,600 of flight test hours that need to be flown by the end of 2010. Boeing has said that while some of the flight test schedule margin has been eaten they would be able to gain some of that margin back because data collection on each flight has been greater than anticipated as well as maturity of the aircraft systems has proven to be better than anticipated. In order to fly the 2,600 flight hours by the end of November (allows Boeing to receive type certification and prepare the first 787 for delivery in December) they would need to fly the test fleet over 81 hours per week. Not an impossible task but they would need to start doing that now. However, as Boeing tests the aircraft and sees no needs for configuration changes in the aircraft or the systems. This has opened up contingency and because they are getting much more data from each flight and retiring more of the risk and certification requirements it will lessen the need for more flights to accomplish all the required tasks. As future flights are flown Boeing feels that they can do more on each flight than they anticipated which would mean that they could add to the schedule margin. This is certainly a huge positive for the program and means that when ANA receives its first aircraft, it should be a matured system. All in all there is a lot of confidence in the 787 program especially with the testing that has been done thus far and what they can accomplish by the start of the 4th quarter. The tentative schedule for the 787 test fleet is as follows: ZA001 - won't fly until early May; ZA002 - should fly around April 30th; ZA003 - should fly around April 27th, ZA004 - should fly soon.

777 or 787-10

One big development from yesterday’s earning’s conference is that Boeing may decide to do an update of the 777 instead of developing the 787-10. This could have plenty of advantages which include reduced development time, lower R& D expenditures as well as better performance vs. the 787-10 (and by extension the A350-900 and A350-1000). A decision on this may be made by the end of this year.

Saj Ahmad of Fleetbuzzeditorial.com has a great analysis piece on the 777 vs 787-10.

Improved 777 May Get Nod Ahead Of 787-10
Lastly, Flightblogger is in Florida freezing his b**t off with ZA003. Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

787 get expanded Type Inspection Authorization...Finally

Boeing Photo of ZA003 at Eglin Air Force Base


The FAA has given Boeing the expanded TIA (Type Inspection Authorization) for the 787 last night. This now means that Boeing and the FAA will undertake test flights and ground tests to certify the 787. Boeing is still planning for first delivery by the end of this year to ANA. Boeing also announced that ZA003 is in Florida to undertake extreme weather testing after flying 5 hours from Boeing Field to Eglin Air Force Base. Boeing also noted that the 78 test fleet has now exceed 500 test flight hours. I'm still trying to find out when flight test will start to take place with FAA inspectors and engineers aboard but I anticipate that it will be soon. Here's Boeing's press release.

News Release Issued: April 20, 2010 11:14 PM EDTBoeing 787 Flight-Test
Program Progressing

EVERETT, Wash., April 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Boeing (NYSE: BA) expanded type inspection authorization (TIA) today, clearing the way for its personnel to fully participate in future test flights and for the collection of required flight-test data. Initial TIA was granted Feb. 11, which supported the collection of flutter certification data.

The expanded TIA marks the FAA's confirmation that the airplane and team are ready to collect additional certification data. Boeing achieved the expansion by demonstrating the readiness of the airplane throughout a variety of speeds, altitudes and configurations.

"This TIA expansion is another significant step toward delivering airplanes to our customers. We remain on track to deliver the first airplane to ANA this year," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Commercial Airplanes.

In addition to receiving expanded TIA, Boeing finalized the aerodynamic configuration of the 787.

"We have completed sufficient testing to decide that no additional changes to the external lines or shape of the airplane are required," said Fancher. "Having an airplane match its expected performance with so few changes is rare and speaks to the maturity of the design."

The 787 flight-test fleet logged its 500th hour of flying April 16. On Sunday, ZA003, the flight-test airplane outfitted with interior elements, landed in Florida, where it will go through extreme weather testing at McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base.

Boeing released two videos highlighting flutter and ground effects testing. These videos feature commentary by the pilots and the chief project engineer and are available on http://www.boeing.com/ and http://www.newairplane.com/.


Flightglobal had picked up this story and you can read their article here. Fligtblogger also has a post on his blog about the TIA.

Flightblogger: Boeing 787 granted Type Inspection Authorization

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A350 schedule slips

Aviation Week revealed that the start of final assembly as well as the first flight date for the A350-900 has slipped by three months. Airbus is not slipping the entry into service date and it is still unclear if there are any other possible strains to the schedule at this point.

Aviation Week attributes the delay to more time needed to finalize some of the detail design of the aircraft as well as other areas that needed more time. Final assembly is now due to start at the end of 3rd quarter 2011 (as oppose to end of 2nd quarter of 2011) with first flight due to take place during the third quarter of 2012 (vs. 2nd quarter of 2012). EIS is still scheduled for mid 2013.

Airbus is still struggling with weight issues on the airplane and have embarked on an aggressive weight reduction effort. Still it is tool early to say that the first delay is any indication of a trend of delays that may occur. Here's Aviation Week's article:

Airbus Delays A350 Final Assembly

The Aviation Week article confirms the belief of many in the industry that the A350 will be inevitably be delayed though there is still much discussion over the length of the delay. The fact that delays are being taken now as opposed to later in the program is not a good thing. Here's a an article by Saj Ahmad written about 3 months ago warning of the delays to the A350:

Airbus A350XWB Weight Grows As Pressure On Schedule Mounts

ZA001 to ZA004, what's happening

The 787 test flight fleet seems to be taking a break from flying...at least a few of the airplanes.

ZA001 - is in a pre-certification layup where it is also getting the Wedge 5.5 software upgrade which is already loaded on ZA004 and ZA002. So far it is not scheduled for any flights in the next three weeks.

ZA002 - also in a lay up but I'm not sure for what.

ZA003 - is curently being frozen into an ice cube in warm and sunny Florida.

ZA004 - will continue flying though I'm not sure when it is scheduled to go up next.

Still no word on the TIA though I'm hearing a rumor that it will issued this week.

On the move

It was moving day for engineers and other flight test personnel in both the 787 and 747-8 programs.

First, ZA003 flew to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the first cross country trip for the 787 to perform cold soak testing the the McKinley Climatic Laboratory. The aircraft will easily fit into the hangar sized for a C-5 Galaxy transport and will be subject to temperatures as low as -65 degrees Fahrenheit. The plan is for ZA003 tho be there until April 27th after which it will fly to either San Antonio, Tx. or Yuma, Az. for hot weather testing.

Second, RC521, the second 747-8 flew to Palmdale, Ca. where it will spend most of its test flight life. The aircraft first made a short flight to Moses Lake, Washington from where it proceeded to fly to Palmdale. Boeing says that the other two 747-8s will join this airplane in the coming weeks. Here is Boeing's press release on the 747-8's move to Palmdale:

Boeing 747-8 Freighter Begins Flight-Test Operations in Southern California
PALMDALE, Calif., April 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The second Boeing (NYSE: BA) 747-8 Freighter, RC521, landed in Palmdale, Calif., today, marking the beginning of a planned transition of 747-8 Freighter testing to Southern California. The more than four-hour flight from Boeing Field in Seattle included testing on avionics and cruise performance.

"Taking the airplane to Palmdale is a big step," said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. "The team is focused on ensuring a seamless transition into the next phase of the flight-test program as we prepare to expand testing of the 747-8 Freighter's performance characteristics."

The airplane will be stationed in Palmdale for the majority of its scheduled flight-test program. The crew will conduct several tests on the airplane with fuel-mileage and
engine-performance testing as key focus areas.

"Palmdale provides an excellent test environment for the 747-8 Freighter," said Andy Hammer, 747 test program manager. "It allows us to take full advantage of one of the world's premier experimental test flight facilities and the excellent weather conditions to meet our flight-test requirements on the road to obtaining our amended type certification."

A contingent of employees has been stationed at Palmdale for the testing, including flight-test engineers and the support personnel who prepare the airplane for each day's flights. In the coming weeks, the two other 747-8 airplanes in the flight-test fleet will join RC521 in Southern California.

The entire flight-test program calls for the three airplanes to perform a total of about 3,700 hours of ground and air testing. The first 747-8 Freighter delivery to Cargolux is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ZA003 headed cross country to Eglin Air Force Base

The third Dreamliner, ZA003, is at this moment flying to Eglin Air Force Base to take part in cold soak tests at the USAF's McKinley Climatic Laboratory. The 787 flew out of Boeing Field at 7:08AM PST for the 787s first cross country flight which should take about 5 hours or so even though Flightaware shows a flight time of 45 minutes...we knew the 787 is supposed to be fast but c'mon!



Flightblogger had revealed earlier this week that ZA003 would perform cold soak test at Eglin Air Force Base. I'm not sure how long it'll be there and what temperatures it will exposed to but they will run the 787s systems to see how they act in the extreme cold though I'm guessing they wouldn't run the engines or APU inside the lab.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Boeing responds to Type Inspection Authorizaton questions.

Earlier I asked Boeing about the delay to the TIA for the 787. Specifically, why was it delayed (no answer on this), when they will expect to receive it and impact to the schedule. Here's Boeing's response:

We have not received TIA yet but we expect it very soon. We continue to
accomplish meaningful progress in flight test and the exact timing of this is
not impacting margin.
So the important thing to take away from this is that Boeing expects no schedule impact from the delay of issuance of the TIA. To review the Type Inspection Authorization is the FAA certificate which allows FAA engineers and inspectors aboard the 787 for the certification flights. The issuance of this certificate formally kicks of the certification test flights that Boeing is required to perform in the presence of FAA personnel and represents the bulk of the test flight program. When James Albaugh spoke at the JP Morgan conference last month he had said that they expect the TIA by the end of March. He also said that Boeign had eaten into some of the margin in the order of 4 to 6 weeks.

It was expected that Boeing would have had the TIA by mid February but that was delayed to end of March (thus losing about 6 weeks of margin. The fact that Boeing is saying the additional delay to the TIA will not impact schedule margin means tha they have some sort of remediation planned to keep the certification test program on schedule.

Four Months In...787 Flight Testing Update

Four months after ZA001 embarked on its first flight the 787 test flight fleet continues to rack up flight test hours across four airplanes. Some of the milestones that were completed over the last month include:

  • Completion of ground effects testing in Victorville, CA by ZA002
  • Completion of flutter testing by ZA001
  • Achieved 15% of total flight test hours
  • ZA001 flies over 300 flight test hours
  • ZA002 flies over 100 flight test hours
  • ZA004 flies Wedge V5.5 service ready software
  • Successful completion of the ultimate load test to 150% of maximum load on ZY997

One notable achievement that was supposed to be achieved during the past month was the issuance of the Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) by the FAA but as of today it still has not been issued. Word is that ZA002 needs to finish testing of the latest version of the flight control software before the FAA can issue the TIA. The issuance of the TIA may occur on April 16th though I am taking that date with a grain of salt. Still if it is issued tomorrow it does represent another 2 week slide in the test schedule thus eating up a total of 2 months of the schedule margin that Boeing allowed for itself. This may indicate that certification would not be given until early to mid December. I'm still waiting to hear from Boeing regarding the TIA.

As of April 14th, Boeing has flown 486 flight test hours spread across 164 test flight. The average flight has lasted about 2 hours and 58 minutes. The average flight utilization continues to decrease. In March it was 2.91 hours per flight and half way through April it is down to 2.65 hours per flight.

In order for Boeing to certify the 787 by early December (33 weeks), the 787s would have to fly over 2,600 flight hours which would equate to over 79 flight test hours per week. I speculate that the reason for the low number of flight test hours is the need to get the TIA from the FAA so that the real certification flight testing can commence. This seems to be the long pole in the tent at this point.

As far as ZA005 and ZA006, the GEnx powered aircraft maybe delayed even further though no reason has been given. ZA005 might be delayed to May 24th and ZA006 won't fly until June 21st.




Production is continuing with the 21st 787 entering final assembly. The 22nd 787 will start final assembly in about 10 days. Saj Ahmad of fleetbuzzeditorial.com has a great take on the the availability of early 787 delivery slots and their value in the market place. QANTAS and Virgin Blue are looking for early delivery slots with the former already having the aircraft on order and the later having converted to firm 777-300ER to options and possibly looking for early delivery slots for the 787. Read Saj's article here:

Fleetbuzzeditorial.com : Boeing 787 Slots Become Sudden Precious Commodities

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Neil Armstrong blasts President's Space Plan

Neil Armstrong, an astronaut who prizes his privacy above all else, has publicly come out against President Obama's plan for NASA. In a letter that was published on MSNBC.com, he called Obama's decision to cancel the Orion spacecraft "devastating" to US Human Spaceflight.

Armstrong's Letter

The letter was signed by Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 commander and Jim Lovell, Apollo 13 commander. Many within NASA as well as outside of NASA have come out against Obama's plans which cancels the majority of US Human Spaceflight and put more money in an elaborate R & D program with no end result or ultimate destination as well as an extension of the ISS mission to 2020.

In response to the mounting criticism of his space plan, MSNBC reported that Obama is willing to revive development of Orion but for use as an ISS lifeboat which would launched unmanned and autonomously docked to the ISS for use an emergency escape vehicle and nothing else. The lifeboat Orion would have minimal systems to act as only a rescue/reentry vehicle and would not have any of the needed equipment/systems for lunar or Martian missions. Also Obama would accelerate the development of a heavy launch vehicle though without a capsule to place atop this HLV and no destination to which to send a payload, one has to wonder what it will be used for except for launching large satellites.

MSNBC: Obama revives capsule from cancelled program

MSNBC: First Moonwalker blasts Obama's Spaceplans

While this is a small step forward it still is not enough. There is still no destination, and there is still no means of reaching low Earth orbit let alone the moon even with the lifeboat Orion. Can the lifeboat Orion still designed with eventual missions to the moon and Mars in mind? Yes but again there is no commitment on part of the administration to go that far. The criticism by Neil Armstrong is certainly going to weaken the any leverage that Obama may have in Congress to get his vision for NASA passed. Tomorrow the President will visit KSC to make an announcement of his plans for NASA.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flightbloggers 787 updates

Jon Ostrower aka Flightblogger had a couple of cool (one literally) posts that is 787 related.

The first one dealt with the paint scheme for JAL's first 787 which is currently in final assembly. The color scheme is based from drawing submissions from local children. Check it out:

Flightblogger: 1st JAL 787 livery

The 2nd post is concerns cold soak testing for the 787. Flightblogger says that ZA003 may be flying soon to Elgin Air Force Base's McKinley Climatic Lab on the Florida pan handle to conduct cold soak testing. Moreover, ZA003 might be departing for the cold soak testing as early as April 18th (next Sunday). As part of the required certification testing, the aircraft must be able to withstand temperatures of around -40 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flightblogger: Answering the 787 cold soak question once and for all

787 and 747-8 Update - April 12, 2010

This past weekend it was expected that Boeing was to fly all four 787 (ZA001, ZA002, ZA003, and ZA004). Both Guy Norris and Flightblogger reported this. This would have marked the first time that all four test airplanes would have flown and hopefully it will allow Boeing to start accumulating more test flight hours. Unfortunately, only ZA001 flew during this past weekend.

According to Guy Norris, ZA002 flight that was expected to take place on Saturday is now scheduled to fly on Monday, April 12th as Boeing wanted to conduct more ground tests on the aircraft which has new flight control software installed. It is flight testing of this new version of the software that will allow the FAA to issue the TIA (Type Inspection Authorization) and allow certification flight testing to proceed. The TIA was expected at the end of March and that was delayed from mid February. If the TIA is issued by the middle of April then the 787 program would have lost an additional 1/2 month of schedule margin.

ZA003 second flight was to have taken place yesterday, April 11th but it did not fly. The reason is unknown but this test flights are to signal the start of environmental control systems testing on board that aircraft as well as testing other systems on the aircraft including the RAM air systems.

ZA004 is going into a planned layup and will not fly until the end of April at the earliest. ZA001 is finishing up the last of stability and control flight tests and will now focus on low speed performance flight testing.

According to my accounting, The Boeing test fleet has accumulated almost 460 test flight hours as of April 11th. On April 9th, ZA004 flew the longest 787 test flight to date which is 6 hours and 40 minutes.

Flightblogger also reported on a potential problem with stringers in the rear of the 747-8 upper lobe (hump). The flange of the stringers may be to thin to handle the loads and thus would need to be replaced. Boeing and Vought (contractor) are studying the issue which may need to be resolved by replacing the stringers in question, a costly and time consuming process. Flightblogger says that the 747-8 in the test flight program would continue test flight under restrictions on their g-loads but they would continue. He says that the 747-8 is now entering flutter testing. So far I've show that the 747-8 program has accumulated just under 108 flight hours through April 11th. Flightblogger says that Boeing is thinking about using on of the production aircraft to augment the 747-8 test fleet. This aircraft would not be instrumented for the test flight program like the other three aircraft are but would perform engineering flight tests. The aircraft under consideration is RC503 which is the second production aircraft and is currently in the paint hangar at Everett.

Read Guy's and Jon's articles here:

Flightblogger: 747-8F begins flutter testing as stringers get inspected (and other 787 items)

Guy Norris: Big Weekend for 787

Guy Norris: 787 Update

Now speaking of structural strength, Daniel Tsang of Airways Aviation News put out an interesting article on the side of body fix on the 787. As some of you may know, Boeing had to fix the side of body area due to that area being too weak to handle flight loads. The fix has been installed on 9 air frames and needs to be installed on another 8. All 787s going forward would have the side of body fix installed at the sub contractor prior to delivery to Everett though there would be some installation work to be done on the final assembly line prior to the wing-body join. It is expected that starting with LN 49, the parts that strengthen the side of body would not be needed as Boeing and it sub contractors would have redesigned those areas of the aircraft (the wing box and the center wing box) that would provide the additional strength needed and the installation of the parts would not be necessary. Daniel Tsang is reporting that the use of the parts that provide the reinforcement to the side of body would be a permanent solution though Boeing is looking to simply the production and installation of the parts by tweaking the design. You can read Daniel's article:

Daniel Tsang: Boeing looking at ways to simplify side-of-body modification

Production
Boeing is continuing to make its production milestones. ZA175 (LN 20) started final assembly on March 31st. This aircraft is a major milestone as it introduce a major blockpoint change which incorporates weight saving measures into the 787. ZA531 (LN 16) which is the second 787 for LAN came out of the paint shop painted all white (not in LAN color scheme as had been expected). Today there will be a line move as ZA176 (LN 21) will start final assembly. ZA150 (LN 17), the first aircraft for Royal Air Maroc, will be moved into the paint hangar though I don't know if it'll be painted in RAM colors. There will be another line move on April 26th when ZA115 (LN 22) will start final assembly. At that pace Boeing will be assembling 787s at a 2.5 per month clip which is what they had been expecting. I expect that Boeing will start final assembly on ZA177 (LN 23) and ZA116 (LN 24) in May.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Airbus delays A380 delivery to Korean Air

In a potential setback to Airbus' plans to deliver at least 20 A380s to customers in 2010, Airbus is delaying delivery of Korean Air's first A380 from 4th quarter of 2010 to the 2nd quarter of 2011 according to Businesweek. The reason is nebulously attributed to production delays though Airbus has been continuously plagued by production problems.

What is troubling is that the delay in delivery is potentially up to 6 months and it is for an airplane that is scheduled to be delivered 8 months from now. One has to wonder about the knock on effects on the A380 delivery schedule as well as the nature of the delay. Another question is what about delivery of A380 for the remainder of this year? Through the end of February, 2010, Airbus has delivered 3 A380s and is planning a production increase to take hold later this year. Currently Airbus is delivering 1 A380 per month and that plan should hold until mid year when the output is to increase to 2/month.

With this latest news, those plans maybe in doubt.

Businessweek: Airbus postpones 1 A380 delivery to Korean Air

Here's a commentary of the A380 production woes by Saj Ahmad at Fleetbuzzeditorial.com:

Fleetbuzzeditorial.com: Shoot the dog (part 4)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boeing declare success on ultimate load test

Boeing says that last weeks ultimate load test were success after thoroughly reviewing the data. This means that Boeing has cleared a major certification hurdle for the 787 and confirms that the side of body fix did its job. Here's Boeing press release on the test results:

News Release Issued: April 7, 2010 1:49 PM EDT

Boeing Confirms Success on 787 Wing, Fuselage Ultimate Load Test

EVERETT, Wash., April 7 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced today that all test requirements were successfully met during the 787 Dreamliner’s ultimate load wing and fuselage bending test. This follows a thorough analysis of the results from a test on the 787 static test airframe.

“Successfully completing this test is a critical step in the certification of the 787. This is further validation that the 787 performs as expected, even in the most extreme circumstances,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

On March 28, loads were applied to the test unit 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 and the fuselage was pressurized to 150 percent of its maximum normal operating condition.

In evaluating the success criteria for the test, Boeing specialists have been pouring over the thousands of data points collected during the test to ensure that all parts of the airplane performed as expected.

“The airframe performed as designed and retained the required structural integrity. These results continue to validate the design of the 787 as we move toward certification,” explained Fancher.

Video of the static test can be found at the 787 flight test Web site at www.boeing.com and www.newairplane.com.

Air Transport World: Boeing targetting end of November 2010 for first 787 delivery to ANA

According to Geoffrey Thomas of Air Transport World, Boeing is saying that first delivery to ANA is on track for the end of November. Further, he reports that the FAA will issue the TIA (Type Inspection Authorization) for the 787 this week. I had reported that it should be forthcoming today and I am still awaiting word on that.

Geoffrey Thomas : Boeing says 787 flight test program on track for November first delivery

Yesterday, Boeing reported that it had completed the first 787 maintenance training class for ANA maintenance personnel. The class consisted of 10 mechanics who will be maintaining the 787 as well as 2 regulator from the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau. Here's Boeing's press release:

News Release Issued: April 6, 2010 5:27 PM EDT

Boeing Completes First 787 Dreamliner Maintenance Training Class

EVERETT, Wash., April 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced that it has completed the first maintenance training class for the 787 Dreamliner. The class consisted of 10 mechanics from 787 launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) and two regulators from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB).

The mechanics, who completed the training last week, are the first of 150 ANA mechanics to be trained by Boeing over the next seven months. They spent more than 30 days learning how to maintain the world's most advanced commercial jetliner, including 20 days of theoretical training, two days of engine runs and taxi testing, five days of practical training and five days of troubleshooting exercises. To conclude the training, students conducted component identification exams on production airplanes, as well as troubleshooting exams in the full flight simulator.

To support the all-new 787, Boeing Training & Flight Services, a division of Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, has developed an all-digital, Internet-based teaching system for maintenance training, along with training tools that connect real-time to a virtual airplane and airplane systems.

"Getting our mechanics trained and prepared is essential to being ready to take delivery of the airplane later this year," said Michihide Kono, vice president of Engineering and Maintenance for ANA. "This is an important milestone for our ANA team and we are delighted to see the continued progress on the program."

The curriculum is designed to focus on performance-based training that incorporates real-world simulated maintenance scenarios for a more immersive training experience.

"The use of personal tablet computers, interactive computer-based training,
three-dimensional images and desktop simulation makes it possible to deliver training more efficiently," said Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Training & Flight Services, Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our team is committed to providing our customers with the resources and tools they need to be successful."

The 787 comes with digital tools and databases that replace volumes of printed materials. The graphic and textual database has point-and-click features for more details, allowing mechanics to navigate through documents quickly to get the information they need to do their jobs.

"This milestone is another important step along the way to being service-ready," said Mike Fleming, director of 787 Services and Support, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Our goal is to make entry into service a seamless experience for our customers."

Fifty-seven customers around the world have ordered 866 787s since the program was launched in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history. Delivery of the first 787 is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Boeing Charleston Plant starts putting up steel columns

Boeing Photo

Construction Workers have started to put up steel columns for the first Boeing assembly plant outside of Washington State. The plant is due to be completed in the summer of 2011 with final assembly of the first 787 to begin in July 2011, 15 months from now. The first delivery of a North Charleston assembled 787 is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012, about two years from now.

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing 787 Final Assembly and Delivery, Charleston Facility Taking Shape

First steel column marks visible progress


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., April 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) took another visible step toward full 787 Dreamliner production Monday by placing the first steel column for its Charleston 787 Final Assembly and Delivery facility.

"This new facility will expand our production capability and strengthen the 787 program as we work toward rate," said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager of 787 Final Assembly and Delivery, Charleston, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "And that reflects our commitment to our customers, our team and our South Carolina community."

Today, Boeing Charleston fabricates, assembles and installs systems for 787 aft fuselage sections and joins and integrates midbody fuselage sections from other structural partners. With the new, 1.2-million-square-foot (92,903-square-meter) building, Boeing will perform final assembly and deliver 787s from North Charleston to customers around the world. Construction on the new facility is on schedule, with production due to begin in July 2011. Boeing will deliver the first 787 built in Charleston in first-quarter 2012. To date, 90 percent of the Boeing direct-contracted dollars for the project have been with South-Carolina-based companies.

The 787 Dreamliner will be more efficient, quieter and have lower emissions than other airplanes while offering passengers greater comfort and the convenience of direct, nonstop flights between more cities around the world. Fifty-seven customers around the world have ordered 866 787s since the program was launched in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history.

The steel construction should be completed in about 6 months barring any issues such as weather. A couple of the local Charleston Media outlets covered the story:

Post and Courier : Boeing's Big Expansion Advances

WCBD-TV : Big Day for Construction of Boeing Plant in North Charleston

Update on 787 Flight Test

So I got a few words on the 787 flight test progress.

The first bit of news is that Boeing should get the Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) around the middle of this week. This is tentative but has shown up on the 787 master phasing plan. We'll know more by the 7th.

Both ZA003 and ZA004 were supposed to fly this past weekend but ZA004 had some minor APU issues so it's flights this past weekend were cancelled. No word on ZA003 flight. These planes could fly as early as today (April 5).

Lastly, ZA002 could be back in the air between today and Wednesday (April 7th). ZA005 is schedule to fly by May 16th and ZA006 should be in the air by June 6th.

Stay tuned in the ever changing program.