Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Continental first airline to announce 787 route

Today Continetal Airlines announced the first route for a 787. The route will be from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand. Continental plans to operate the route starting Nov. 16, 2011 and they expect to receive their first 787 in August 2011.
Here's CO's press release:

Continental Airlines Announces New Service From Houston Hub to Auckland, New Zealand

First route worldwide to be announced for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner


HOUSTON, May 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today announced another major step in development of its Houston hub with plans to begin nonstop Boeing 787 flights to Auckland, New Zealand on Nov. 16, 2011 (subject to government approval).

Auckland will be added to the 63 international destinations that Continental
currently serves nonstop from Houston, and will become the 26th destination in Continental's Pacific network. Continental serves more destinations in the Pacific region than any other U.S. carrier.

Continental will be one of just three airlines flying nonstop between North America and New Zealand. At approximately 7,400 miles, the new route will be the longest from Continental's Houston hub. Continental plans to operate the route on a daily basis, with five-times-weekly service during certain periods in the first year of operation.

On May 3, Continental announced that it has agreed to merge with United Airlines in a merger of equals to create the world's leading airline. The success of the Houston Auckland route will be enhanced by the additional traffic flows through Houston that are expected to result from the merger.

First 787 Route Announcement

Continental is the first airline in the world to formally announce specific, initial route plans for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet. The airline has firm orders for 25 Dreamliners. The 787 is a new-technology composite aircraft with lower operating costs, better environmental performance and an improved cabin environment for customer comfort. Deliveries to Continental are expected to begin in August 2011. The aircraft will have 228 seats, including 36 of Continental's new flat-bed BusinessFirst seats for the best rest on long-distance flights.

Today Continental also unveiled a modernized and expanded customer check-in facility in Terminal C at its Houston hub at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

"Our new route to Auckland and our new and upgraded facilities at IAH are tangible examples of the emphasis we place on continuing to expand Houston's role in domestic and international aviation," said Jeff Smisek, Continental's chairman, president and CEO. "This hub has ongoing growth opportunities because it has a strategic location, space for expansion, support from the community and an excellent team of Continental co-workers who deliver our clean, safe and reliable service."

"This new flight between Houston and Auckland shows how the Dreamliner will create new opportunities to connect global markets that currently are not being served," said Mario Diaz, Houston Airport System director of aviation. "As the largest hub for Continental, George Bush Intercontinental Airport is honored to be selected as the launch pad for the Continental Boeing 787."

Convenient Connecting Flights

The Houston-Auckland route will benefit from connecting traffic at both ends. Continental's Houston hub will draw passengers from throughout North America. In addition, Houston will be a very competitive connecting hub for travelers on itineraries between Europe and Auckland.

Auckland is home to Air New Zealand, one of the 27 carriers including Continental which are members of Star Alliance. Air New Zealand and its regional airline partners offer service to 20 destinations in New Zealand and seven in Australia, including Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Coolangatta (Gold Coast), Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.


Following is the preliminary schedule for the new service, planned to take effect Nov. 16, 2011. Continental will begin taking reservations and selling tickets on the new route later this year.

Leave Houston Arrive Auckland Leave Auckland Arrive Houston
11:50 a.m. (same Summer 9:30 p.m. 5:10 a.m. (2 days later) 3:40 p.m. day)

11:55 a.m. (same Winter 9:10 p.m. 6:55 a.m. (2 days later) 5:55 p.m. day)

About Auckland and New Zealand

Auckland's waterside location has fostered the locals' love affair with the sea, earning this place the nickname "City of Sails." The city sprawls over a narrow isthmus between the waters of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours. A cloak of rainforest covers the surrounding hills, dozens of dormant volcanic cones dot the landscape and inviting islands are scattered throughout the vast Hauraki Gulf. Two of the best island getaways are Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island.

Auckland's heart beats to a Polynesian rhythm, its people a melting pot of European, South Pacific and Asian cultures and a strong indigenous Maori heritage. This diversity brings with it an abundance of unique dining and shopping experiences.

Auckland's temperate climate, easy access to the coast and variety of activities earn the city consistent "top five" rankings in international lifestyle surveys.

New Zealand's awesome landscapes, lush forests, amazing wildlife and pleasant climate make it a haven for many outdoor activities, and a great place to unwind. New Zealand society is diverse, sophisticated and multicultural and the Kiwi people are known for their honesty, friendliness and openness. A great advantage of New Zealand is that all of its diverse physical, cultural and artistic landscapes are so close to each other.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

787 heading for the East Coast

Boeing is sending a 787 to the East Coast for the first time. Oddly, though, ZA001 left from McChord Air Force Base and is flying to Robins Air Force Base. I'm not sure why it's flying from one USAF base to another so if someone out there does now, please let me know.

Flightaware ZA001 flight plan

Oops, ok thanks to Susanna Ray at Bloomberg, I am reminded that Boeing did send the 787 to Florida though it was the Florida panhandle! ZA001 is flying to Georgia so I guess we could say that it's heading to the Atlantic Coast.

Is Delta switching from the 787-8 to the 787-9?

Yesterday I linked to a post on Saj Ahmad's blog site regarding the 787-9.
On the 9

Well interestingly enough a comment was left by someone saying that supposedly that Delta has decided to switch from the 787-8 to the 787-9 and to increase the order to triple digits (100 or more airframes?). The announcement is supposedly to be made later this year once Boeing has reallocated the 787-8 slots that Northwest had bought along with it in the merger. Now this is a rumor so let's not take it at face value but if there is someone out there who knows something and who can confirm it, let me know!

It is interesting because a lot of people know that Delta has said that it doesn't really need the 787-8 and there has been rumors that they would take up more 777-200LR. Well now in the light of Boeing gaining some more range from the 787-9 one wonders if this rumor may have some truth to it? In increasing the 787 order (they have 18 on order plus 50 options) to about 100+, Delta could replace the entire 767 and A330 fleet (about 100 aircraft) and add capacity for future growth.

Again, if any one has any further information on this rumor, please let me know!

Monday, May 24, 2010

787 Test Fleet exceeds 800 test flight hours

Boeing has amped up the flight test program for the 787 program in recent weeks. The program has been lagging in the the number of flight hours flown but Boeing has certainly stepped up the flight test in terms of the number of sorties flown as well as the number of hours flown during each sortie.

In the last one week (May 17th to May 23rd inclusive) the 787 test fleet amassed just a shade under 120 flight hours. During that week of flying ZA004 flew a 12 hour and 30 minute NAMS mission which is the longest 787 flight to date. Also during that time, the test flight achieved over 25% of the 3,100 flight test hours that the fleet will fly. The grand total now stands at 824 flight test hours spread over 265 sorties. They are one third of the way for the certification of the Roll Royce Trent 1000 powered aircraft.

Boeing will need to maintain this tempo over the next 6 months in order to achieve the certification of the airplane prior to first delivery in December.

Lastly, Saj Ahmad is making a case for the 787-9 to be a replacement for the 777-200 and 777-200ER aircraft and a direct competitor to the A350-900 now that the Boeing is close to finalizing the design with weight saving improvements in the aircraft to boost it's range while improving fuel burn. More over, Saj says that Boeing will identify more improvements in the 787-9 that will move it's range beyond 8,150 nm and may even be a replacement for the 777-200LR. Read on: - On the 9

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tidbits from the Boeing Investors Conference

Here are some main points from today's Boeing Investor's Conference
  • 787 sold out beyond 2012
  • 737 Sold out through 2012
  • 787 facility in Charleston will be self sufficient
  • Use 787 earnings toward 737 successor/re-engine and 777 improvements/777NG
  • Expect 787 margins to grow over time
  • 787 production model is the future just need to get it right
  • Commercial aircraft orders for Boeing to be better this year vs last year
  • 787 has not flown as many hours as they had hoped to have at this point but efficiency of flights are high
  • 747-8 TIA to be in hand in a few days
  • Talking to customers about either re-engining the 737 or building a whole new airplane
  • Improved on 787 final assembly costs; take out about half the cost of final assembly for airplanes 7 to 21
  • 747-8I has 70% of detailed engineering completed
  • Boeing adds a fourth 747-8F to the flight test program
  • 737 plans to be announced this fall
  • 787-9 final configuration this fall; start final assembly of first 787-9 in 1st quarter 2012
  • Reducing weight on the 787-9; hope to have it fly 8,150 nautical miles
  • Plan to incorporate -9 weight savings into the 787-8 to improve that airplane
  • Boeing completed 1,450 test conditions on the 787 flight test; retired a significant amount of risk
  • No major changes required on the 787
  • Boeing has a day to day plan to finish test flight and achieve certification
  • Boeing needs less than 90 hours/month per aircraft of flight time to certify the 787
  • ZA100 power on planned for summer
  • 787 is aerodynamically stable no need to change the outside lines
  • Boeing has already flown or tested extreme conditions on the 787
  • 5th 787 to fly in the next few weeks (ZA005)
  • Boeing now transitioning from testing phase to demonstration phase
  • Seeing improvements in production and in the supply chain
  • Boeing will see almost a 70% increase in completion between airplane 23 and airplane 16
  • 50 pilots have flown the 787
  • Shear tie issue not a huge concern; did not drive the decision to halt deliveries to Everett
  • GEnx-1B powered 787 to be certified in 1st quarter of 2011
  • Submittal of FAA required docs and testing to be done before November for certification purposes.

If anyone had listened to the conference and wishes to add anything significant, please contact me.

Flightblogger 787 flight test update

Flightblogger has posted his 787 flight test update which is chock full of great info. I'm hearing that first flight of ZA005 is probably not until mid June at the earliest though that too can change.

Read his article:

787 Flight Test Update - Month Four and Five

My notable quote of the day, which beg the question..can an airplane fly too well?

"We've not seen anything in flight test that bothers us. Knock on wood, it
almost flying too well."
---James Albaugh at the Boeing Investor's Day Conference

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ZA002 heading to Colorado Springs Airport today

As I had reported earlier this month, Boeing is sending the 787 (ZA002) to Colorado Springs Airport for engine tests. The tests are LRTO testing on the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. It should be there for a few days. Boeing had planned to send ZA004 but that aircraft is deep in long duration certification testing in Victorville.

Flightaware posting for ZA002

More info on the rear fuselage shear ties from Seattle Times

UPDATE: Dominic Gates reports that Boeing had made an error regarding the number of shear ties that have to be modified. Dominic writes:
Business: Because of incorrect information supplied by Boeing, a Tuesday story on a design flaw in the 787 said "less than a dozen shear ties" would have to be replaced on each airplane. Boeing corrected that misinformation Tuesday, saying mechanics will replace portions of 12 shear ties and also will have to reinforce many other shear ties in the rear fuselage of each plane.

Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times has more information on the shear tie issue in the section 48 and section 48 aft on the 787. In his article Dominic says that Boeing will use reinforcements that will be retrofitted into the airplanes already built as well as the future builds up to airplane 54. Starting with airplane 55, Boeing will use a redesign shear tie that is thicker than the one that is currently used.

Interestingly Boeing does characterize the problem as a potential issue over time but will be addressing it now as the will not deliver any airplanes without the reinforcements installed.

Boeing will implement the fix on airplanes 4 to 22. Boeing reiterated that this problem won't delay first delivery or the flight test program. Indeed, the 787 test fleet continues to post more flight test hours.

Dominic Gates: Another 787 design flaw — but no delays, says Boeing

Monday, May 17, 2010

Breaking: Flightblogger reports on new design flaw in 787 aft fuselage

Jon "Flightblogger" Ostrower reported that the prime reason for the production halt was not just for suppliers to catch up with production work but also to allow Boeing and it's suppliers to fix a design flaw. The flaw can potentially compromise the structural integrity of the airplane. Flightblogger reported that the flaw was discovered in December, 5 months ago.

The flaw involves shear ties which attaches the fuselage skin to the fuselage structure in section 48 and 48 aft. When there are repeated changes in the thermal condition of the rear fuselage, the shear ties can detach from the aircraft skin thus creating the structural issue.

The Fix

Flightblogger reports that the situation does not represent an immediate safety of flight issue to the test flight fleet and that a fix is identified. The fix involves using thicker shear ties and radius filler alongside the existing shear ties. Boeing says that all airplanes will meet FAA requirements.

LN 23 and LN 24 are being modified now at Charleston with some modification work to be done at Everett. LN 25 will have the fix installed partly in Charleston and partly in Korea where the section 48 Aft is manufactured. The existing airplanes will be modified though apparently ZA001, ZA002 and ZA003 will not receive them as they will not be sold to customers. All customer airplanes are going to receive the modifications. Thus airplanes from LN 4 to LN 22 will all have to receive the modifications and starting with LN 55 the 787 will have a permanent fix in the section 48. Now while there has been some supplier issues that have lead to the temporary halt in production, Flightblogger's sources has said that the shear tie issue is the main reason for the halt. I will try to get more details about this issue.

Boeing said that the issue will not effect first delivery or continued production of the 787.

Flightblogger: Source: 787 design flaw drives supplier freeze

Now for something a little different: Boeing Model 40 Meets the 787 Dreamliner

Some of you have probably already seen this:

Boeing and Ryan Pemberton Photo
This is a formation flight of the Boeing Model 40 and the 787. Pretty cool stuff!

News Release Issued: May 17, 2010 12:32 PM EDT

Boeing Model 40 Meets the 787 Dreamliner

First production airplane meets the future of flight in the skies over Puget Sound
EVERETT, Wash., May 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- As if finding a ghost among the cumulus, The Boeing Company's (NYSE: BA) latest addition to its lineage of pioneering commercial airplanes, the 787 Dreamliner, on May 8 caught up to its ancestor, a Boeing Model 40, in the skies over Mount Rainier south of Seattle.

The fully restored 1928 vintage Boeing Model 40, owned and flown by Addison Pemberton of Spokane, Wash., is the only flyable Model 40 in the world and the oldest flying Boeing aircraft of any kind. The Model 40 not only is notable as Boeing's first production commercial airplane, but its innovation and efficiency were the deciding factor in Boeing Air Transport (the airline subsidiary of the Boeing Airplane Company) winning the lucrative Oakland-to-Chicago air mail route in 1927. That event set William Boeing on a course that, within just two years, would take him from managing his airplane company in Seattle to presiding over a vast nationwide aviation empire called United Aircraft and Transport Corporation (UATC).

The 787 and Model 40, both the technological leaders of their time, represent 80 years of Commercial Airplanes leadership and clearly illustrate the dramatic progress in airplane design.

During those 80 years, the people of Boeing have introduced innovative technologies that have revolutionized flight and defined the design of all commercial airplanes.

Taking a very short break from the 787 program's intensive flight test program, Boeing Chief Test Pilot Mike Carriker expertly maneuvered the first 787, ZA001, into formation with the Model 40 at 12,000 feet to allow photographer Ryan Pemberton, flying in an A36 Bonanza, to line up for the striking photo.

"It really took a lot of work and planning," Carriker said. "When I came alongside the Model 40 against those big puffy clouds it was unbelievable: Here is this 1928 biplane flying with a 2010 airplane side by side. How amazing the history of The Boeing Company is – it was really exciting."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Five Months In...787 Flight Test Update

With 5 months completed on the 787 flight test program, Boeing is starting to make some headway but there are still some headwinds ahead for the test program. The primary concern is completion of the 3100 hour flight test program as well as the associated 3700 hour ground test program. Additionally, the last two 787s powered by the GEnx-1B engines still have not flown though the first one, ZA005, is progressing towards its first flight. Some milestones that were accomplished (as of May 14th) were:
Receiving the expanded TIA from the FAA allowing FAA inspectors on board the certification flights
  • Flying the longest 787 flight to date (accomplished on May 14th with an 11 hour test flight by ZA004)
  • ZA004 achieves 100 test flight hours
  • 787 program goes over 650 test flight hours
  • ZA003 under goes cold and hot weather testing at Eglin and Lackland Air Force Bases
  • Commencement of certification flight testing on board ZA004 with the FAA
  • ZA001 flies its 100th flight

It does seem that some schedule margin has been eaten up and there is word circulating around that Boeing can be three months behind in delivering the first 787 to ANA. Still Boeing has reiterated their guidance of 4th quarter 2010 for delivery of ANA's first 787.

It does seem that Boeing is starting to ramp up more test flights and keep the airplanes in the sky longer. ZA004 has been doing long duration flights with an 11 hour flight on May 14th from Victorville and flying over the Pacific just west of the Baha Peninsula. On May 15th this aircraft is doing another similar test flight over the eastern Pacific just west of Mexico. ZA002 also did a test flight over the inside passage just north of Vancouver, BC. This represents the test flight in international airspace as well as over foreign airspace.

In the last one month, the 787 test fleet has flown over 176 test flight hours. As of May 14th the fleet has accumulated 662 hours and 20 minutes of test flight time. That leave Boeing to accomplish flying the 787s for more than 2437 flight hours in the next 6 months. That equates to posting about 13 hours and 15 minutes of flight time each day for the next 6 months or about 93 hours a week. This is still doable but I believe that Boeing has no margin left in schedule. An important point that everyone reading this should be left with is that Boeing has encountered no major issues during the flight test program, nothing that could be considered a show stopper. If this trend continues and Boeing is able to put up the test flight fleet over 13 hours a day then they can make it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A380 production cost weigh down EADS earnings; Airbus hopes rising dollar will save program

Just a warning on where I stand: I think Airbus pursuing the development and production of the A380 is one of the worst decisions the European company could have made. I know there are many readers who will take issue with that and I certainly welcome your frank and polite response.

EADS just announced that its earnings are being negatively impacted by continued production problems on the A380. Airbus salespeople wanted to have as much customization as possible so that airlines can out do each other in terms of flying amenities. Fine but that obviously presented a huge (ongoing) headache for Airbus' A380 engineers and operations people who have to design and coordinate the massive customization of each and every A380 and has dramatically increased the A380 costs and pushed out the breakeven to beyond 500 airplanes.

Airbus is at such a point in the program that the success or failure of the program no longer hinges on the merits of the aircraft but on the direction the US dollar trades in the foreign exchange markets.

Airbus has come to a point where the destiny of the A380 program is not in their hands anymore they are at the mercy of forces that are beyond their control. World events and financial speculation create volatility in the financial markets thus having the A380 profitability be determined by these forces is very scary. And this is $25bn that we're talking about here. That's not chump change!

Mismanagement is partly to blame but so is Airbus' hubris that they thought they could sell 1000 A380s. Truly the only reason Airbus bought the A380 to market is that they wanted to lay claim to the building the largest passenger aircraft flying. Well they have that distinction but they're also going to have the distinction of making one of the worst industrial production decision ever.

Hans Peter Ring, EADS finance chief is hoping that the dollar appreciation over the next 5 years can help the A380 program breakeven. Take note here, it not customer orders that's going to save the A380 program, it the strong dollar that Airbus is laying its hopes on. The aircraft will garner a couple hundred more orders but with the rumored breakeven at 500 or 600 units, this program will not breakeven on orders alone.

Saj Ahmad of also has the same take on the A380 program:

Saj Ahmad: Shoot the Dog (Part 5)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ANA pilot fly the 787 for the first time

Boeing Photo
Pilots from 787 launch customer ANA flew ZA001 on a familiarization test flight yesterday says Boeing. It marks the first time that customer aircrew flew the controls of the 787.

News Release Issued: May 13, 2010 7:31 PM EDT

ANA Pilots First Customer Crew to Fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner SEATTLE, May 13 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) and two ANA (All Nippon Airways) pilots flew the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time Wednesday. The airplane they flew is the first of six flight-test airplanes. The two-hour-and-40 minute flight took place over Washington state.

Flying the 787 for the first time were ANA pilots Capt. Masayuki Ishii, director of 787 pre-operations planning, and Capt. Masami Tsukamoto, manager of 787 pre operations pilots. On board were Capt. Mike Carriker, Boeing 787 chief test pilot, Capt. Christine Walsh and Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"The flight was a customer demonstration for our launch customer's lead pilots to evaluate the 787," said Fancher. "We are extremely proud to have ANA on the flight, and have the opportunity to show what a great airplane the men and women of Boeing have created."

The flight was conducted under a special airworthiness certificate granted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

The 787 program was launched in April 2004 with a record order of 50 787's from ANA. ANA, which plays an active role as launch customer, is scheduled to take the first 787 delivery in the fourth quarter 2010.

During the flight, both pilots performed multiple takeoffs and landings as well as other maneuvers that allowed them to feel the airplane's characteristics. The pilots also gained experience with other 787 flight-deck features, including larger display screens, dual head-up displays and dual electronic flight bag.

"It was fantastic and an incredible experience," said Capt. Ishii. "ANA passengers are in for an incredible experience when they fly on the 787," he said.

"The flight was fantastic," said Capt. Tsukamoto. "I've been waiting for this day since we made the launch order, and today my dream came true."

During the flight, Carriker showed the ANA pilots, who are both rated on the Boeing 777, the similarities and differences between the two airplanes. Pending regulator approval, it will take as few as five days of training for 777 pilots to become qualified as 787 pilots.

Customers around the world have ordered 860 787s since the program was launched in April 2004, making the Dreamliner the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history.

Boeing looses another 6 787 orders, customer unknown

In their weekly order update, Boeing showed that they lost orders for another 6 787s though the customer is unknown. There are only two customers who have orders for 6 787-AWAS and Monarch Airlines. It is highly doubtful that it is Monarch Airlines as they have recently signed a maintenance agreement for their 787s. It is possible it is another customer who partially cancelled their order as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ZA005 starts engines; about to enter gauntlet testing

Boeing Photo
In the last few steps before its first flight, the first GEnx-1B powered 787 started those same GE engines for the first time yesterday. It had undergone fueling tests at the Boeing fuel dock last week and is now on the road to its gauntlet testing which hopefully should occur very soon. It should take to the air around May 24th. Boeing would have achieved another major milestone by getting this airplane in the air albeit late compared to what they were aiming for. The last test flight airplane, ZA006, should take to the air by June 21st.

Boeing also reported that all four of its Rolls Royce Trent powered aircraft were in the air at the same time last Saturday (May 8th).

This is a first for their program and yesterday, the test flight fleet exceeded 20% of the required (3,100 hours) test flight hours. They are now over 620 flight test hours and the program is seemingly gaining more momentum and increasing the test flight tempo.

UPDATE: Boeing just put out a video of the first engine run on ZA005:

Starting up a new generation of engines

UPDATE 2: Boeing just put out a press release:

Boeing Completes First 787 GEnx Engine Runs

EVERETT, Wash., May 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The first General Electric GEnx engines on a Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner came to life Monday with initial engine starts. Customers can choose between the GEnx engines and the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines to power their 787s.

"This is another exciting step in our progress on the 787 test program," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"Our partners at GE have worked diligently to ensure their engines are ready for the testing that is going to occur both before first flight of ZA005 and throughout the flight test program."

Video of the engine run is available at

Following engine testing, ZA005, the fifth 787 to be built, will undergo a series of ground tests similar to those conducted on the first 787s to ensure that it is ready for first flight later this quarter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Picture: Boeing Charleston Construction Progress

Photo By Charleston Regional Business Journal

The photo shows progress on the 787 final assembly building now under construction in North Charleston, SC. The picture shows workers setting 400 ton trusses that span the 460 ft width of the assembly building.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Boeing moves 787s around, final assembly activities temporarily stopped

Boeing has temporarily stopped final assembly activities on 3 787 in order that 3 other 787s that have completed the side of body modifications are finished.

In doing so, Boeing has towed ZA151 (LN19) to a spot on the Boeing flightline and took ZA175 (LN 20) and ZA 176 (LN 21) went into temporary storage at the ATS Hangar. In their place Boeing put ZA100 (LN 7) in building 40-26 position 4, ZA101 (LN 8) in position 3 and ZA102 (LN 9) in position 2. These planes all have undergone the side of body modifications. It is anticipated that these airplanes will be in 40-26 for a little bit more than a month. When Boeing is ready to resume production ZA100 will be moved to 40-24 (767 final assembly line) and the line will pulsed so that ZA177 (LN 23) can start final assembly. The two of the three booted airplanes will return to the assembly hall once the reassembly activities are completed on the three early build production airplanes. ZA151 will go to the paint hangar soon and ZA175 and ZA176 will return to 40-26 once the reassembly activities are completed.

In other news, ZA005 may finally light the GEnx-1B engines today. I'll post if that happens.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Boeing starts assembly of first 747-8I; 4 Dreamliners flying today

Today, Boeing announced the start of assembly of the first 747-8 Intercontinental. This is the largest version of the 747 built and will seat 51 more passengers than the 747-400. It also incorporates the GEnx-2b engines as well as a new wing design. The first flight of the -8I should take place by the end of the year with delivery of the first aircraft in the 4th quarter of 2011. Boeing started the final assembly of this aircraft by loading wing spars and wing panels into the assembly tools to start the build out of the wing for the aircraft. Gradually the other parts of the 747-8I will be delivered and assembled in building 40-22. Here's Boeing's Press Release on the start of final assembly:

News Release Issued: May 8, 2010 2:07 PM EDT

Boeing Begins Assembly of First 747-8 Intercontinental
EVERETT, Wash., May 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced it began assembly of the first 747-8 Intercontinental at the factory in Everett, Wash. Late this week, mechanics took the first step in major assembly for the new airplane by loading its wing panels and spars in the assembly tools. The spar is the internal support structure that runs through the full length of the wing.

"This milestone symbolizes the dedication, focus and hard work that our team, suppliers and customers have invested in designing this wonderful airplane," said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The 747-8 Intercontinental will provide our customers with increased levels of passenger comfort, greatly improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions and noise."

Deutsche Lufthansa AG was the first airline to order the new, fuel-efficient passenger airplane, contracting for 20 747-8 Intercontinentals, with purchase rights for an additional 20. "We are very pleased to see that the production on the 747-8 Intercontinental has begun," said Nico Buchholz, senior vice president, Corporate Fleet of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. "We are looking forward to welcoming the aircraft in our fleet as it is a component of Lufthansa's strategy to modernize its fleet and increase environmental stewardship. The 747-8 shows our clear commitment to customer orientation."

The new 747-8 Intercontinental is stretched 18.3 feet (5.6 m) from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats -- 51 more than its predecessor -- in a three-class configuration. GEnx-2B engines and a new wing design provide airlines a quieter, more fuel-efficient airplane. The 747-8 is 16 percent more fuel efficient and creates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than its predecessor. The 747-8 also provides nearly equivalent trip costs and 13 percent lower seat-mile costs than the 747-400, plus 26 percent greater cargo volume.

The 747-8 interior incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, upswept architecture that gives passengers a greater sense of space and comfort while adding more room for personal belongings. The architecture is accentuated by lighting technology that provides smooth transitions for a more restful flight.

The 747-8, which includes the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 747-8 Freighter, was launched in November 2005. Boeing has 108 orders for the 747-8 -- 32 for the 747-8 Intercontinental and 76 for the 747-8 Freighter. The first 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled to deliver in late 2011. has an analytical piece on the future of the very large aircraft market:

Saj Ahmad: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Kicks Off Assembly

In 787 test flight news, the 787 test flight fleet surpassed 600 test flight hours today (May 8th) with all 4 Rolls Royce aircraft flying today. Boeing is trying to ramp up the test flights for each of the airplanes in order to make the end of year deadline to certify and deliver the first 787 to ANA. The 19th 787 (for ANA) just emerged from the paint hangar and is now parked on the flightline.

Friday, May 7, 2010

777NG possiblities

One of the most important decision facing Boeing is what to do to respond to the A350. Specifically, what will Boeing's answer be to the A350-900 and the A350-1000. The A350-800 is sized for the 787-9 market (both carry roughly the same number of passengers).

Airbus is targeting the 777-200 sized market with the A350-900 and the 777-300ER market with the A350-1000. Boeing is waiting to see what Airbus does with these two models before deciding on a future improvements on the 777 or an entirely new model in this class.

From my discussions it seems that Boeing is leaning towards a package of extensive improvements of the 777 line. These improvements may include weight saving measures throughout the aircraft, a new composite wing, an external re-profiling of the exterior lines and improvements in the GE90 using experienced gleaned from the GEnx program. The last proposed improvement is addressed by Saj Ahmad in an article he wrote:

Engines May Hold Key to Future 777

At the end of the day it does seem that Boeing is in the driver's seat because it can respond to the threat of the A350 with a lot of flexibility.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Boeing gets a large 777 order

Emirates Photo
Boeing posted a large order for their 777 aircraft though the customer was not revealed on Boeing's web site. The version of the 777 was also not revealed by Boeing.

I have received word that the customer is Emirates Airlines and will probably be announced at the Farnbourough Air Show in July.

ZA004 to head to Colorado Springs Airport next week

Boeing Photo
According to sources, ZA004 will be heading to Colorado Springs Airport next week around May 11th. The nature of the testing is not entirely known but it might be for LRTO testing of the aircraft's Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.

NASA's Pad Abort 1 Test

This morning NASA successfully tested the launch abort system for the Orion spacecraft at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The test went off at the planned 9AM launch time. The abort system lifted a boilerplate Orion capsule to about 6000 feet at which point the jettison motor separated the LAS from the Orion capsule and activated the parachute recovery system on the Orion. The three large recovery parachutes deployed as planned and the Orion gently landed in the New Mexico desert.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

787 Happenings

Boeing and the FAA continues on the certification flight test path with the test flight fleet accumulating just under 575 flight hours. Interestingly, flights that occurred yesterday were not posted on Flightaware for some reason and flight notifications are not being sent from Flightaware for any 787 flight.

Next week one 787 is going to fly to Colorado Springs Airport for more flight testing around May 11th. I surmise that this trip to Colorado might be for high altitude flight testing. ZA001 should return to flight test today or tomorrow and ZA002 will be flying towards the end of this week. ZA005 is still scheduled to make its first flight towards the end of May while ZA006 will follow by mid June.

Lastly, I have been keeping track of the 787 production and I found out that 4 of 5 787s for LN 26 to LN 30 will be going to Air India. LN 25 (ZA230), LN 26 (ZA231), and LN 28 (ZA232) to LN 30 (ZA234) will be for Air India. LN 27 (ZA178) will be a Japan Airlines bird. I expect that these airplanes will be in final assembly this fall.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Boeing Increases its Charleston, SC presence...sets up 787 interior parts manufacturing center

Boeing just announced that they will be expanding their footprint in the North Charleston area by establishing a manufacturing center for interior 787 parts (things like galley door, dividers, secure cockpit doors, video workstations, etc.). The Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina will be an extension of Boeing's Interior Responsibility Center which is in Everett.

The new facility will make interior parts for the 787 that are manufactured in South Carolina. Here's Boeing's press release:

News Release Issued: May 3, 2010 12:00 PM EDT

Boeing to Manufacture Certain 787 Interior Parts in South Carolina

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., May 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) announced today that it has chosen South Carolina as the location for fabrication and assembly of airplane interior parts to supply the 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery site currently under construction in North Charleston, S.C. The company is reviewing potential sites for the new airplane interiors facility and anticipates making a final decision by midsummer.

The new facility, Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina, will be located near the North Charleston final assembly and delivery site. As many as 150 employees will work at the new interiors facility, which will serve as an extension of the existing Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, Wash., leveraging the opportunities of a single, integrated production system. This decision is part of Boeing's plan announced in 2009 to provide an independent sourcing stream for 787 final assembly and delivery in South Carolina. The close proximity of this new facility to Boeing's Charleston site will help improve the efficiency of the final assembly and delivery process in South Carolina.

"By expanding Boeing's footprint in South Carolina, we enhance our existing foundation with Boeing Charleston and further contribute to the growth of aerospace in the region," said Ray Conner, vice president and general manager, Supply Chain Management and Operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Ultimately, the decision we made in 2009 builds on our overall strategy to successfully meet our 787 customer commitments and to optimize our production capability."

The Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina team will manufacture 787 interior
parts, including stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, floor-mounted stow bins used by flight attendants, overhead flight-crew rests, overhead flight attendant crew rests, video-control stations and attendant modules.

"Recognizing the superior quality of the products and services provided by our Interiors Responsibility Center in Everett, Boeing believes this extension is an important step in ensuring that we maintain a high level of consistency and quality in our production system," said Conner. "In the long term, we are strengthening our position in the aerospace market and ensuring that we remain competitive as a company."

Located within the Boeing Everett complex, the Interiors Responsibility Center is a focused area of excellence for the design, manufacture, assembly and integration of a wide range of interior systems for production, aftermarket and spares for Boeing commercial jets. About 1,380 people work at the IRC producing products that include crew rests, doors and doorway linings, overhead stow bins and floor-mounted stow boxes, life raft boxes, closets and partitions, secure flight deck doors, video control centers, purser work stations, dry galleys, ceilings, sidewalls, decorative laminates and proximity lighting. Engineering integration services provide customer interior solutions from concept product design through project management and certification.

UA/CO Merger - My take on it's future fleet

With so much to take in with the UA-CO merger here's my quick take on their fleet the end of the day United is going to have a mix fleet of Boeing and Airbus. They'll keep the 787NG and the A320s in their fleet and I expect that all the current narrowbody orders will be kept intact.

I do think however that between the two fleets there will be a change in the widebody orders that are currently on the books.There are still 3 777-200ERs (for CO) as well as the the 787s and A350s:
3 x 777-200ER (CO)
36 x 787-8 (25 UA and 11 CO)
14 x 787-9 (CO)
25 x A350-900 (UA)

I do think that there may be too many widebodies on order here for both carriers combined and thus some part of this total order is going to be cancelled. Given that the 787-8 is going to be the prevalent type (CO/UA will be taking delivery starting next year), I think the A350 order will be cancelled and maybe some 787-8s. I think the new UA will be taking at least 25 787-8 and all the 787-9. They may even opt for more 787-9s.

As far as the narrowbodies are concerned. Look for UA to continue to take delivery of the remainder of the 737/A320 orders but after that the airlines is going to wait and see what both manufacturers turn out in terms of the either the re engined narrowbody or next gen narrowbody. UA might even opt for the C-Series.