The last week or so has provided some welcomed good news for the 787s. First was Boeing's announcement that they had increased the production rate to 3.5 aircraft per month. This was sooner than planned as Boeing had expected that the rate would be increased later this sprig. Boeing is still planning to be at 5/month by the end of this year though if the supply chain continues to show this sort of improvement then it may be sooner. This is a very, very good sign for the program.
The second bit of good news came out today when Boeing announced that they had completed the certification test program for the 787 with the end of the certification program for the GEnx-1B powered version of the Dreamliner. ZA236 (LN 35, VT-ANH) had completed the final bit of F&R and ETOPs testing late last month and flew back to Everett. Boeing had also completed all the final ground tests that they needs to perform. I anticipate that Boeing should receive final type certification for the GEnx powered 787 in the next 1 to 2 weeks. This should still give the company time to deliver the first GE powered Dreamliner to Japan Airlines by March 31st. In fact ZA236 which just completed the certification test flights is back out on the flightline at Everett but painted in Air India colors this time indicating that this aircraft might soon be delivered soon.
Currently, information that I received a bout two weeks ago shows that Boeing has planned to deliver three 787s this month. They are:
ZA117 (LN 40, JA806A) on March 16 for ANA
ZA177 (LN 23, JA822J) on March 31 for JAL
ZA179 (LN 33, JA825J) on March 31 for JAL
In addition Boeing is not planning any B1 flights for any 787. The three aforementioned 787s have all had their B1 flights though they have yet to fly any subsequent pre-delivery flights. IT does seem that the shim issue has slowed down the pace of pulling out the prepared 787s to the flightline to begin the pre-delivery process. The other unknown is if ZA236 will be delivered this month. A lot of that will depend on if the airplane is ready and if Boeing and Air India have concluded negotiations on compensation for the 787 delays.
Lastly, now that the build rate has gone up in Everett, Boeing will still need to park those new 787s around Everett. Boeing has started parking 787s on the Kilo 6 (K6) taxiway at Everett. This taxiway is in the southwest part of the airport near the Flying Heritage Museum. The first one to be parked there was ZA288 (LN 53) for United Airlines. Space is becoming a premium at Everett and the pace of 747 and 787 deliveries has slowed. April will be critical as the 787s that are built at the newer rate will be pushed out the door and that means even more 787 on the Everett ramp unless Boeing starts to deliver those that are in re-work during April. As added pressure, Boeing is also upping the 747 rate to 2/month later this year.