Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What are the 787s doing?

Well some of you reading this blog might be wondering about the activity (or lack there of) of test flights on the 787 test fleet. Here's a run down:

ZA001 - Having it's left engine changed (reason unknown); should return to flight around 10/5
ZA002 - In ground tests; should return to flight around 10/5
ZA003 - Maintenance; should return to flight on 9/30 (tomorrow)
ZA004 - Thrust reverser and misc. engine upgrades and additional instrumentation being added; should return to flight on 10/9
ZA005 - Engine change; should return to flight on 10/12
ZA006 - Undergoing flight readiness review for first flight; first flight on 10/4 (not 10/2 anymore)

Interestingly, ZA006 is in the paint hangar for an unknown reason but is still scheduled for its first flight.

Flightblogger, in between tours of various 787 supplier facilities, had time to put up a 787 post.

Some notable news:

  • ZA101 (LN 8) has received its Trent 1000 engines
  • ZA102 (LN 9) performed gear swing tests
  • ZA102 has received a partial passenger cabin (between doors 1 and 2 and another section between door 3 and 4).
  • ZA001 has successfully completed the max energy RTO tests
  • 787 production is set to resume after this weekend with LN 28 (ZA232) for Air India set to start final assembly. This should mark the start of production at just under 3/month.

You can read more in his blog:

Flightblogger: 787 News in Brief: Trent 1000s, ZA006 first flight, float concludes, 787s 8 & 9, RTO in the bag, plus 737 and 747-8

Guy Norris also has a 787 update on the Aviation Week blog roll Things With Wings. He elaborates on ZA006's road to first flight as well as on the activities surrounding the other 5 test flight airplanes.

Guy Norris: Second GE 787 Set to Fly

Until the 787's are back in the air again, here a re some Boeing videos on the 787 for your viewing pleasure:

All Videos Courtesy of Boeing

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Boeing and Rolls Royce move to put Trent 1000 issues behind them

Boeing and RR execs are meeting today and tomorrow to review the way forward with the Trent 1000 after the uncontained failure in early August.

In an article on Bloomberg News, Rolls Royce will be presenting Boeing 787 executives with their plan to fix the Trent that would not put the first delivery, scheduled for mid February 2011, in jeopardy. Boeing, presumably knowing some of the general facts of the plan said that they believe they will be ok after getting the detailed briefing.

Susanna Ray: Boeing Scrutinizes Rolls Recovery plan for 787 Dreamliner Jet

Lastly, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times, has an article out talking about the 787, 747-8 problems and the re-engining of the 737.

Dominic Gates: Albaugh hopeful on engine fixes for delayed 787

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guy Norris details upcoming 787 test schedule

Today Guy Norris detailed the upcoming tests for the 787 which includes the max energy RTO (rejected take off) certification testing as well as details of the testing that ZA102 (LN 9) will be tasked to perform as part of the "first of model" testing that will be performed on production standard 787s.

Earlier this evening, ZA004 returned to Boeing Field from Glasgow Industrial Airport where it was taking part in community noise testing.

Tomorrow should be a very busy day for ZA001 where it will be performing the max energy RTO to test the carbon braking system of the 787. If it passes this will be a major milestone that will be passed on the road to certification.

Guy Norris: 787 max energy brake tests today

Friday, September 24, 2010

787 news - Sept. 24, 2010

Boeing Photo
Lots of small bits and pieces.

To start off, ZA006 has seemed to have attracted a little bit more attention with both Flightblogger and Susanna Ray of Bloomberg News putting up stories after my last post came out announcing another delay to its first flight.

Well first a little bit of good news for this particular airplane....First flight is no longer scheduled for Oct. 4th but now has been pushed back to Oct. 2...eight days from now. In the last couple of days FAA officials were on board ZA006 for engine run tests. I still don't know if the aircraft has undergone its mini gauntlet or not.

The last test flight 787 has been delayed due to unspecified "challenges" in getting the airplane ready for it's first flight. My personal feeling is that they will get the airplane to fly in the next few day but at this point in the program with hundreds of hours of ground testing and build experience behind them already, Boeing should have retired much of the risk at this point that would lead to the 787s first flight. I have to wonder if these issues can have an effect on getting the production 787s ready for their first flight and eventual delivery to customers? At this point in the development and with all the delays taken into account, the 787 and the systems on board should be a very mature aircraft.

The 787 production aircraft are gearing up for their future as I write this. Already ZA102 (LN9), which will be the next 787 to fly, is now due to have it's first flight on November 8 instead of November 1st. However, I can confirm that this airplane is getting the passenger interior that ANA has ordered (being installed right now) and will fly with a full passenger interior layout. In due course I expect ZA100 (LN7) and ZA101 (LN8) will get their passenger interiors installed very soon. The installation of passenger interiors does highlight how close Boeing is to the finish line with the 787 flight test program though there are still issues, such as the unexplained (as of now) failure of a Trent 1000 IP turbine, that Boeing still has to address. Flightblogger has an article about that on the Flightglobal web site.

Flightblogger: Cause of 787 engine test failure remains unclear

Flightblogger: Trent 1000 engine failure investigation hangs over 787

Flight testing seems to have taken a few days off with no test flight yesterday and no flight plans filed for any of the 787s today (so far). v Boeing would need to fly the Rolls Royce equipped 787s an average of six hours and twenty minutes a day for the next 113 days (mid January) in order to certify the Rolls Royce powered 787s. They would have to fly the GEnx-1B powered 787s an average of 4 hours per day for the next 113 days in order to have that aircraft/powerplant combination certified by mid January.

Lastly, construction workers in South Carolina are topping off the 787 final assembly hall this weekend. The building should be completed by next summer and the first 787 should be rolling off in early 2012.

Here's Boeing Press Release:

Boeing Marks Construction Milestone on South Carolina 787 Final Assembly Building

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today marked completion of the steel framework for its new 787 Dreamliner Final Assembly building with a special topping-out ceremony. The event was held in conjunction with BE&K/Turner, the design-builder of the facility.

The final piece of steel was put into place on the 1.1 million-square-foot (102,193 square meters) structure less than a year after the November 2009 groundbreaking. Approximately 18,000 tons of steel are used in the building.

"By this time next year, the Final Assembly building will be complete, and we will have begun production of the first South Carolina-built 787 Dreamliner. That is tremendous – from green-field site to airplane production in about 18 months," said Marco Cavazzoni, vice president and general manager, 787 Final Assembly and Delivery. "The support we've received and continue to receive from our South Carolina partners and suppliers, as well as the state and local community is amazing and is one of the main reasons we've been able to reach these significant milestones in such a short timeframe."

Construction on the new facility is on schedule, with airplane production due to begin in July 2011 and first delivery in first-quarter 2012. At full production rate, Boeing will assemble and deliver three 787s per month from South Carolina to customers around the world. The South Carolina Final Assembly facility will be one of only three in the world producing twin-aisle commercial jetliners.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

ZA006 first flight delayed....again; 787 test flight pace slows down

UPDATE: Susanna Ray of Bloomberg News just posted a news story on ZA006:

Susanna Ray: Boeing's Final Test 787 Faces 'Challenges' for Flight

I've just received news that the first flight for ZA006 has been delayed yet again. Originally this airplane was to flown in April-May but now first flight is scheduled for October 4th...12 days from now. No reason is apparent in this newest delay.

Meanwhile the pace of 787 flight testing has slowed down with only ZA001 and ZA004 conducting flight tests the last few days. I do believe that the other three airplanes are in either lay up or conducting ground tests. The RR/787 test program has exceed 70% of the planned 2,430 flight hours needed for certification while overall the 787 has exceeded 60% of the planned 3,100 flight hours.

Lastly, Boeing has released a video of the first aft fuselage section for the 747-8I as this airplane moves closer to final assembly. Check out the Boeing video below:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ten Month In.....

Boeing Photos
Ten months into the 787 test program and Boeing has made some progress but also aw some set backs in announcng a delay to first delivery to ANA as well as some continued Trent 1000 engine issues.

Boeing has accumulated, through September 14, 1,850 hours and 30 minutes spread over 596 total flights since December 15th. the pace has dropped over the past ten days.mainly due to arplanes being out for ground testing or for planned layups. In the period between August 15 and September 14th Boeing has flown the most hours since the start of flight tests with over 362 flight test hours flown. This included the crosswind test flight in Iceland as well as continued S & C (stability and control) testing and flight loads survey flights.

In the next week Boeing should havethe 6th and final test flight airplane flying though it is a few months late getting into the air. Boeing has given itself a little bit more time to complete all the certification test flights and to prepare the production airplanes for delivery by delaying the delivery to mid February but patience is now razor thin with its customers.

Guy Norris posted a blog report on the 787 test flight fleet's current disposition. ZA001 and ZA005 both returned to flight on Friday, September 17th and ZA004 did fly to Glasgow Industrial Airport in Montana today for the 787's 600th flight. It will conduct community noise testing for the next few days while it is there.

Guy Norris: 787s back in the air

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ZA001 experiences an engine surge with Trent 1000; engine being replaced

This afternoon, Flightblogger tweeted that ZA001 is grounded in Roswell, NM due to an engine problem. Boeing is saying ZA001 experienced an engine surge on September 10th and that they have a replacement engine on site and are working to replace the engine.

In his tweet, Flightblogger said that ZA001 should be flying back to Boeing Field either on Friday or Saturday. Boeing is working with Rolls Royce to determine the root cause of the engine surge and implement a fix.

Impact to the test schedule is not known at this time but there may be no impact at all.

This aircraft is equipped with the package “A” Trent 1000 engines, the same type that had an uncontained failure on an engine test stand in Derby, UK. The engine that was on ZA001 didn't have an uncontained failure and Boeing siad that the engine surge is unrelated to the engine failure on August 2nd.

Sources have told me that the aircraft experienced the surge in the right engine. The ZA002 and ZA003 are in planned ground test right now and ZA004 and ZA005 are in planned layups.

UPDATE: Sources have told me that ZA004, which will swap out its package "A" Trents for the package "B" Trents will have its engine swap starting on November 16th. The swap should take about three weeks followed by one more week of ground tests. ZA004 should be back in the air with the package "B" Trents around Decm. 14th...close to the one year anniversary of the first 787 flight.

Flightblogger: Breaking: Boeing grounds ZA001 following engine surge

Bloomberg: Boeing Says 787 Test Jet Grounded Due to Engine Surge

Guy Norris: Boeing 787 Suffers Engine Surge During Flight Tests

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

787 fatigue test begin and 747-8I taking shape

Photos Courtesy of Boeing

Boeing announced yesterday that it has started fatigue testing on ZY998 which is the fatigue test dedicated air frame. This airframe will undergo 3 years of testing nonstop that will simulate over 160,000 flight cycles on the 787. Boeing needs to have 3 months of testing done prior to certification thus the start is timely for the 787 certification program. Mike Mecham of Aviation Week has a great article with details of the 787 fatigue test program. Boeing also put out a video and a blog post which is linked below. Here's Boeing's press release:
Boeing Begins Testing on 787 Dreamliner Fatigue Airframe
EVERETT, Wash., Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has begun fatigue testing on the structural airframe of the 787 Dreamliner at the Everett, Wash., site. Fatigue testing involves placing the 787 test airframe into a test rig that simulates multiple lifecycles to test how the airplane responds over time.

"Unlike static tests, where loads are applied to the airplane structure to simulate both normal operation and extreme flight conditions, fatigue testing is a much longer process that simulates up to three times the number of flight cycles an airplane is likely to experience during a lifetime of service," said Jim Ogonowski, structures vice president, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

While the structural test program already has validated the strength of the airframe,
fatigue testing looks at long-term, continued use. This is the natural progression of testing on a new airplane and part of the process to achieve U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification.

Video of the fatigue test can be found at

Moving on to other 787 related news, Flightblogger revealed in a blog post that ZA102, the 9th 787 built has received its Trent 1000 engines and is moving towards its first flight. These engines are the package A engines. Early in August a package A Trent 1000 had an uncontained failure which lead to the current delivery delay. It was that engine that was meant for ZA102.
Further, sources have told me that ZA102 is slated to make its first flight in the first week of November. Boeing wants to carry out functionality and reliability testing as well as ETOPS testing on a production standard 787. ZA101 will also be used for testing but only for ground testing. Preparation for ZA006's first flight continue with testing on going on that aircraft including leak checks with a fuel load and testing of the NGS in the fuel tanks. That airplane is still scheduled to fly on Sept. 24th.
Lastly, Boeing will resume final assembly activities on new 787s with ZA232 (LN 28) due to start final assembly on Oct. 4th.

The 747-8I program continues to move forward with the forward fuselage structure completed and moving on for sealing and testing and then onwards for systems integration and assembly with the rest of the 747 fuselage. The first 747-8I should be rolled out by the end of this year or very early next year with first flight in early 2011. Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Assembles First 747-8 Intercontinental Forward Fuselage

EVERETT, Wash., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) achieved another significant milestone for the first 747-8 Intercontinental Sunday night with the assembly of the airplane's forward fuselage. The 89-foot, 2-inch (27.2 meters) fuselage section, featuring the airplane's signature upper deck, was moved from the assembly tool for sealing and testing before beginning systems installation.

The 747-8 features a stretched fuselage compared to that of the 747-400. It is 18 feet, 4 inches (5.6 meters) longer than its predecessor. Much of the stretch -- 13 feet, 4 inches (4.1 meters) -- is located in the forward fuselage. The remaining additional 5 feet (1.5 meters) are located aft of the wing. The 747-8's stretched fuselage provides for 51 additional seats to accommodate 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration and 26 percent more cargo volume.

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is the new, high-capacity 747 that offers the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane, while providing enhanced environmental performance.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

787 Crosswind Test Videos

Flightblogger embeded a video by DABB Films of ZA002's crosswind tests in Iceland and I have to say it is a very remarkable piece of film that is professionally done. I highly recommend that you view it!

Additionally, Flightblogger posted his own video of the crosswind landing trials which he entitled "787 Chasing The Wind" a great video with commentary by flight test engineers and pilots.

Friday, September 10, 2010

787 Flight Test Time Exceeds 1,800 hours; ZA006 starts its engines; Boeing possibly moving more 787 production in house

Lotsa headlines since I haven't posted over the last week.

There's been a good amount of progress with the test flight program over the past week with 4 of the 5 787 flying from remote locations around the world. ZA001 has been flying out of Edwards AFB and later Roswell Air Center for take off and landing trials. ZA002 was in Iceland until last Wednesday getting crosswind testing under the 787's belt. ZA003 is still in Yuma, Arizona undergoing its hot weather flight testing. ZA004 is still doing flight loads survey testing out of Victorville, California. ZA005 is the only 787 to stay at Boeing Field though it was rejoined by ZA002 by mid week.

Thus far the test flight team has accumulated over 1,800 flight hours and in the first 9 days of September has flown over 130 hours which is on pace to put the 787 at 400 flight test hours if this current trend continues. That would be the most flight hours flown in one month since May which saw over 329 flight hours flown. Boeing has been flying the 787 with more frequency lately and they seem to be making good headway with the test flight fleet.

ZA006, the last of the test airplanes finally turned on its GEnx-1B engines for the first time. This aircraft's first flight has been delayed by about four months due to many small unspecified issues that cropped up. The airplane is expected to go through gauntlet testing soon and the latest I've heard for first flight is September 24th. This aircraft will be testing electromagnetic effects, high intensity radio frequency testing and ETOPS (extended twin engine operations) testing.

An article by Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing is expanding its composite development and manufacturing center in Puget Sound area. This expansion, initially will support the manufacture of test sections for the 787-9 but may be used to supply the horizontal stabilizers (part that Alenia has built and whose workmanship issues have helped pushed the 787 entry into service into 2011) and wings when Boeing is planning increase the monthly output of 787s to 10 per month though the article says that Boeing Japanese and Italian suppliers will continue to manufacture those parts. Boeing is saying that no decisions have been made with respect to bringing more manufacturing in house.

Additionally, Dominic reported that a separate facility will be built in Salt Lake City, UT to build the vertical tail fins for the 787. Currently, the Boeing facility in Frederickson, Wa is only facility to manufacture the vertical fins. With the planned increase in 787 production to 10/month, this facility will provide the vertical fins to support that increase.

Dominic Gates: New Boeing plan: Expand work in Seattle

Early in the month, Flightblogger had a blog post reporting that Boeing will be retiring the large tooling tower that is used to assemble the 787 in the first position on the 40-26 final assembly building. The tool, known as MOATT, has apparently not lived up to its expectation and instead Boeing will use cranes and other traditional assembly processes to snap the 787 together. Additionally Boeing is working through the horizontal stabilizer issues at Alenia especially making sure that the workmanship issues do not reappear as well as reworking the first 26 horizontal stabilizers if they need rework. Currently, Boeing is in a production hold with airplane 27 in final assembly. Airplane 28 is not expected to start final assembly until later this fall thus allowing the rest of the supply chain to catch up and to eliminate travelled work going into Everett.

Flightblogger: Boeing continues search for 787 production equilibrium

Lastly, there is an interesting article out on Boeing San Antonio and the work they'll be doing to prepare 787s for delivery to customers. The summary is that some of the 787s will be flown to San Antonio in order to incorporate final system and mechanical changes into the 787 before the aircraft gets their interiors and are delivered to customers. Boeing has planned that San Antonio would do some of the change incorporation work based upon the flight tests that are now on going. There's no date when the first 787 will be sent for change incorporation but some airplanes will undergo change incorporation in Everett while some will have it done in San Antonio.

Boeing S.A. to troubleshoot 787

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Flightblogger: Boeing to add 4 more 787s to test flight program; ZA006 delayed to September 24th

UPDATE: Flightblogger was informed that Boeing will only add two 787s, ZA101 for ground testing and ZA103 for ETOPS testing. The other 2 aircraft will not join the flight test program and will be preparing for delivery.

Word just got to me that first flight of ZA006 is now delayed to September 24th according to Boeing's newest schedule. I'm still trying to ascertain the reason for the delay.

Additionally, according to Flightblogger, Boeing is adding 4 more 787 from the production run to aid in the test flight program. Airplanes 7 through 10 (ZA100, ZA101, ZA102 and ZA530) are to join the flight test program in order to ensure that the current schedule is maintained. All four airplanes are to be equiped with the Trent 1000. The first three airplanes are destined for ANA while ZA530 is for LAN Airlines. According to Flightblogger, these aircraft will have minimal instrumentation needed for flight testing and will be used mainly for ETOPS flights as well as functionality and reliability testing. I do also believe that the performance of the production aircraft will be compared to the flight test airplane performance.

Flightblogger: Report: 787 test fleet to grow from six to ten

Guy Norris: Oil fire suspected in Trent 1000 failure

Guy Norris posted an article saying that the uncontained failure of the Trent 1000 engine on a Rolls Royce engines test stand last month was due to a oil fire that weakened the shaft of the IPT and which subsequently failed.

If this is confirmed then it may mean that there is a problem with the Trent 1000 that would have to be addressed by Rolls Royce and perhaps Roll may have to re-certify parts of the engine, it is too early to tell what impact this may have.

Guy Norris: Oil Fire Suspected In Trent 1000 Failure

The latest delay has provided fodder for critics of the 787 and Boeing with many saying that Rolls Royce is being used as a scapegoat for the latest problems that Boeing has encountered. However, if there was an oil fire in the Trent then Boeing cannot possibly take the hit for the latest delay especially since they did not design and manufactured the engine.

Right now both Boeing and Rolls Royce are fairly silent on the status of the engine and what really happened on August 2nd but Boeing is still flying the 787 in test flights and is poised to fly the last test flight 787, ZA006, on September 18th. Boeing still has to get about 1,500 flight hours under the 787s belt in order to certify the airplane. They need to fly about 320 hours a month for the next 5 months in order to meet their certification and delivery target dates.