ZA177 in San Antonio for Change Incorporation (Boeing Photos)
After flying ZA177 (LN 23 for Japan Air Lines) down to San Antonio (Lackland Air Force Base) last week, Boeing is now ready to start the process of change incorporation into the built 787s as well as incorporating the needed changes back into the supply chain.
First a little background. Throughout the testing and certification program (either ground test or flight tests) for the 787, Boeing and the FAA identified changes that needed to be made to the 787s in order for them to be certified to carry passengers. These changes can be numerous and each task can take anywhere from a few minutes to weeks to complete. The added complexity is that each task has to be undertaken in a certain order so as not to duplicate any disassembly tasks as well as not to cause any damage to the aircraft. The airplanes will not receive the customer interiors (seats, galleys, IFE, etc.) in San Antonio. That work will be done in Everett after the change incorporation process is completed.
Boeing said that a total of 6 787s will go through change incorporation in San Antonio including the last 3 787 flight test aircraft (ZA004, ZA005, and ZA006) which will be refurbished for delivery to unannounced customers. Boeing has not identified the other production 787 that will undergo change incorporation in San Antonio but has said that they send additional 787 to San Antonio for change incorporation work as they see the need. The other airplanes that are not flown to San Antonio will have work done at Everett. Currently Boeing has 35 787s assembled or are in the process of final assembly bu change incorporation will only occur on LN 4 and later. Currently that is 32 airplanes. As modifications are identified and the detailed engineering and design changes are finalized, they will be incorporated back though the final assembly process and into the supply chain (at least that's the plan). It is not known how long each aircraft will take in change incorporation. Here's Boeing's press release:
Boeing Begins Change Incorporation Work on 787 Dreamliner
787 program continues steady progress toward certification and delivery
EVERETT, Wash., March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Boeing (NYSE: BA) began change incorporation work on the 787 Dreamliner at Boeing's Global Services & Support site in San Antonio, Texas. Airplane #23, the first 787 to undergo change incorporation, on Friday flew from Everett, Wash., to San Antonio on a ferry flight. During change incorporation, airplanes that are not part of flight test are configured to conform with the standards established as part of type certification efforts. Refurbishment of three of the six 787 flight test airplanes also will take place in San Antonio after completion of flight test activities.
"The 787 team is thrilled to have the expertise and enthusiasm of the San Antonio team focused on getting these airplanes ready for delivery to our customers," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program.
The current plan is for six Dreamliners to complete change incorporation and refurbishment in San Antonio. Three will complete change incorporation and three airplanes will be refurbished after flight test is complete. However, the plan is flexible and could accommodate additional 787 production needs as flight test is completed and airplanes are prepared for delivery. The work will be performed from March 2011 through 2013.
"We continuously look for ways to leverage the strength of the Boeing enterprise, taking advantage of the team and the skills we have across the company," said Fancher. "San Antonio specializes in modification work and has the capability and capacity to get the job done. The team was a natural choice."
Some of the work done in San Antonio will include installing electronic and mechanical equipment, completing software upgrades, testing functional systems, and removing and reworking wiring or equipment that needs to be updated to current configuration requirements. Approximately 450 employees will be hired on a temporary basis to join with 1,700 experienced workers at the site to complete the work.
"Everyone on our team is excited to join the 787 program," said Kevin Devine, vice president and general manager of the San Antonio site. "This airplane is about as advanced as you can get and there are high expectations tied to this work package. I am confident that our team will get the job done."
Currently, there are about 1,500 employees at Boeing's San Antonio site performing maintenance and modification work on the following programs: KC-135 Programmed Depot Maintenance, KC-135 Global Air Traffic Management, C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership and the C-130 Avionics Modernization program.
There are other changes coming to the 787 flight test fleet...actually just one airplane. ZA004, which was to have the package "B" Trent 1000 engines installed last month will now have those engines installed between March 18th and April 6th.
Lastly, the 787 flight test fleet went over the 3,100 flight test hour mark yesterday when ZA003 completed a 2 hour and 10 minute test flight. It is epected that ETOPS testing should begin late this month and carry on into July.