There was high expectations that Boeing would have delivered quite a few 787s during September in an effort to improve quarterly results, however, Boeing managed only 5 deliveries during the past month. On a bright note, it seems that there can be a good number of aircraft that should be delivered in early October as their delivery dates were pushed to the current month. Boeing was very aggressive in production test flights in the effort to deliver many Dreamliners including the first aircraft to Jetstar (QANTAS) and Royal Brunei Airlines. Additionally there were several 787s in Charleston that were expected to be delivered in September including aircraft for Air India, China Southern, Hainan, Qatar and LAN. Hainan was delivered in September while China Southern was delivered on Oct. 1 and flew away on Oct. 2nd. Boeing had to fly a lot of test flights on the 5 airplanes that they were trying to deliver from Charleston. None of the aircraft for the above mentioned carriers flew fewer than 8 test flights with one 787 for LAN recording 13 flights. Two of these aircraft should deliver in early October with the Air India delivery on hold due to the usual financing issues with Air India.
Everett faired a little bit better but Boeing was planning to deliver the first 787s each to Jetstar and Royal Brunei. These airplanes are still at Everett and I believe they should deliver in the early part of October as well. All in all September was a very slow month for 787 deliveries and part of it may be due in part to customers being very picky during customer inspections (Qatar) as well as continued media reports about breakdown, cancellations and delays of the 787s in service with the customers. Amongst the most vocal airlines regarding the teething issues are Norwegian, LOT Polish and Qatar. However, it is a little disconcerting that aircraft built at Charleston had to fly more test flights (Boeing and customer) than those built at Everett though there were 787s that were assembled at Everett, especially the ones that were delivered in 2011 through mid 2012, that had to undertake numerous test flights. Undoubtedly, as the Charleston team improves efficiency and their experience the number of test flights and squawks will trend downward.
So what should we expect for October? This is difficult to say for several reasons: 1) Any issues at Charleston which currently has 8 787s waiting to be delivered and 9th that will be coming out soon. 2) Increase scrutiny by customers of their aircraft prior to deliveries which can lead to more customer flights 3) unpredictability of certain customers to take deliveries (Air India, China Southern, Hainan, and Qatar). There is a fourth issue which may come up and that is the current government shutdown that can affect 787 production particularly with the 787-9 but also on changes with the 787-8. Boeing has already spoken about this. With the US Government shutdown there aren't any FAA inspectors to carry certification work and that could have a significant impact on deliveries. I'll be watching this carefully. I do think that we can see 9 to 10 787 deliveries mainly because of the spillover of missed September deliveries into October.
Lastly, Boeing announced that the 787-9 has completed Initial Airworthiness Testing which clears the way for Boeing 's engineers to fly aboard the aircraft in order to collect data. Boeing has completed just under 50 hours of testing over the last two weeks. The second test flight aircraft, ZB002 (LN 133, N789FT) was rolled out around Sept. 30th. It spent 8- days in production vs. 86 for ZB001. ZB001 flew 24 days after being rolled out. If I apply the same metric to ZB002 then it should fly (barring any issues or unknown unknowns) by October 24th. I believe it can fly by mid October.
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