Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FAA expected to respond to Boeing 787 proposal next week. Longer grounding expected.

Today Michael Huerta, the FAA chief, testified before a House subcommittee on aviation that he expects that his staff will complete their review of Boeing's return to flight proposal next week but does caution that "Once we approve the plan, then we have to go through the process of actually implementing the plan, which will involve a great deal of testing, a great deal of further analysis and re-engineering before these planes are back in the air".

He characterized Boeing's plan as comprehensive as it deals with the issues on a cell level, battery level and airplane level, referring the to the multi layers of protection that Boeing had presented last week to the FAA.  Still GS Yuasa has indicated that Boeing should add in protection against external current surges. Obviously GS Yuasa feel that the issues lay not with their battery but from other external factors.  This may complicate Boeing's ability to return the 787 to revenue flight in a timely manner according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

This indicates that the 787 for customers will be on the ground for much longer than Boeing anticipates.  I am willing to venture that the grounding will last through May with final re-certification of the lithium ion batteries coming around that time and resumption of revenue flight in June. Already many current customers (8 thus far) are planning for resumption of service around the summer time with LOT Polish Airlines planning for a resumption in the fall time though this is probably very extreme.  The Seattle Times has an excellent article about today's testimony and the current situation with regards to the 787.

So what does this mean for the timing of 787 delivery resumption? Boeing will have 23 complete 787s by Feb. 28. If I assume that customer flights resume by the end May which would mean that customer deliveries won't resume until the end of the second quarter as Boeing would need a month of pre-delivery ground and flight tests before they can deliver new 787s.

This means another 4 months of 787s coming off the final assembly lines in Everett and Charleston at a rate of 5/month.  This means Boeing would add another 20 787s that will be stored around the two final assembly locations.  Additionally, I believe that Boeing will also have finished 2 787s that are currently undergoing change incorporation at the Everett Modification Center (EMC).  This means that Boeing will have a backlog of about 45 787s waiting to be delivered.  The 45 would be split 34 Dreamliners at Everett and 11 at Charleston.  This number will create a storage challenge for Boeing at both locations.  Some of these airplanes have had flight tests (5 airplanes) but would need further tests in light of the enhanced battery protection measures that Boeing will install.  If Boeing is to attempt to deliver more than 60 787s, they would have to deliver 10/month for the second half of the year. 

Also what is unclear is how this will affect Boeing's plan to test and certify the 787-9 the first of which should be ready for flight by late August to early September.  Additionally, it is unknown how all this affect Boeing's efforts to certify the 787 for ETOPS 330 though I would expect that the FAA will have additional conditions that Boeing will have to meet in order to allow the 330 minute limit for the 787s. Air New Zealand, the first 787-9 customer needs to have the aircraft certified for ETOPS 330 by the time it takes delivery.
 






10 comments:

Andrew Munsell said...

When is the NTSB update? THe 30 days they set forth that within the next update would be is only 4 days away

Rick Lieberson said...

http://atwonline.com/aircraft-engines-components/news/787-battery-charger-producer-says-charging-unit-passes-tests-0305?NL=ATW-04&Issue=ATW-04_20130305_ATW-04_182&YM_RID=rick@tlinedesign.com&YM_MID=1377658&sfvc4enews=42

Rick Lieberson said...

NTSB to issue interim factual report on JAL B-787 battery fire investigation at 11 am ET on 3/7/13.

Andrew Munsell said...

Thanks Rick

harty236 said...

NTSB interim report has been released:

http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/2013/boeing_787/interim_report_B787_3-7-13.pdf

gmpower said...

FAA likely to approve Boeing 787 battery plan in days...

http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2013/03/06/faa-likely-to-approve-boeing-787-battery-plan-in-days-sources/#ixzz2Myku8dYU

Joostdg said...

Hey Uresh,

Thanks for keeping us up to date with the progres during this mess. One question. Do you know why boeing only lists 49 delivery's on their site? They say AI has only 5. I thought I had seen it on their site as 50 as well. Did they take one back?

Greets

Rick Lieberson said...

The scarcity of 787 updates is very disconcerting.

gmpower said...

Uresh, when boeing get's the green light from FAA to begin their formalized plan to flight test the battery fix, about how long to you think this will last and when can we really expect that the FAA will lift the 787 grounding?

gmpower said...

Boeing Receives FAA Approval of Certification Plan for 787 Battery Solution:

http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=2619