In a wide ranging article, Aspire Aviation revealed today several newsworthy aspects of the 787s program and the future of the variants of the base 787-8 aircraft.
First off the article addresses the 787-8 status. While the program is now well into production and delivery of the base 787-8 model, Boeing is planning to hit the 5/month milestone on November. It is hoped that the ramp up to 7/month will occur in March/April 2013. Assuming that Boeing is producing 5 787 for the first 5 months of 2013 and 7 for the last 7 months (there's a lag between the increased production rate and delivery of those airplanes at the increase rate thus I'm assuming that the 10/rate airplanes won't be delivered until January 2014) Boeing can deliver 84 787s not including 787s from the EMC.
The weight of the787-8 is still an issue with the current production block still at about 4 tonnes overweight according to Aspire's sources. It was hoped that by the 90th aircraft (LN 90) that the weight would be down to the original spec weight but this appears to have slipped. It is unknown when Boeing will achieve the original spec weight though the culprit seems to be a shortage of parts that are weight optimized for both the 787-9 and the 787-8.
Speaking of the 787-9 this variant looks to be doing extremely well from a weight and development point of view. The word is that the first 787-9s will achieve weight targets set by Boeing with further production blocks coming in underweight by around 2%. This is all a result of the testing done on the 787-8 and understanding what was over-engineered. At some point there will be weight savings that will be put back into the 787-8 but it does appear it will take a while. ZB001 (LN 126) will be the first 787-9 that is to be assembled and it does look like that this should take place starting around February or March. What is unclear at this point is how many 787-9s will be part of the testing and certification program. I don't think it will be 6 but perhaps 2-3 airframes. Already Boeing suppliers are producing some of the fuselage sections of the 787-9.
Aspire's report also touched upon the 787-10X which is now rumored to be targeted for an authority to offer by the Boeing Board of Directors as early as this month. The 2nd stretch variant will build upon the 787-9 using the same wing and able to fit 323 passengers in a 3 class layout. This model along with the 787-9 can effectively kill the Airbus A330-200 and A330-300 while also severely hurting the sales of the A350-800, A350-900 and even the A350-1000 all of which are under severe schedule pressure as it is. There are numerous European, Asian and Middle Eastern customers that are salivating at the thought of the 787-10 and I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing has a few surprise orders in hand by the end of the year for this model if it has the authority to offer. Aspire's speculates that with a launch late this year, Boeing will have a firm configuration by the end of 2nd quarter of 2014. roll out of the test aircraft in 2017 and EIS in 2018/2019 though I would think that with a rollout in 2017 Boeing should have the ability to achieve EIS in 2018 at the latest since it is a straight forward stretch variant. It shouldn't take 2 years to test and certify a simple stretch variant of the 787-9.