Thursday, May 30, 2013

Singapore Airlines agrees to 787-10 commitment, formal Boeing launch right around the corner

Singapore Airlines is the first airline to publicly announce that they have an agreement with Boeing to buy the next variant of the 787, the 787-10. Singapore Airlines has said that they intend to purchase 30 787-10s contingent on formal launch of the airplane by Boeing. SIA expects deliveries of the -10 to start in 2018-2019. They already have orders for 20 787-9 that will go to their low cost subsidiary Scoot.

I expect Boeing to formally launch the variant at the Paris Air Show next month and I also expect that the launch announcement will include launch orders from at least 2 if not more customers. One of these customers would most likely be IAG (British Airways) who exercised 18 787 options. Even though IAG didn't announce the version they will buy, it is widely expected to be the 787-10.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fuselage sections starting to arrive into Everett for 1st 787-9

Boeing is starting to receive the fuselage sections for ZB001, the first 787-9 to be built.  Boeing received the first section 41 (forward fuselage) from Spirit AeroSystems from their Wichita plant.  This section is not too different from the forward fuselage for the 787-8 thus integrating it into the production system shouldn't present any challenges.  Boeing may have received another fuselage section (either the rear or center section) very early this morning a 747-400 Dreamlifter did arrive into Everett from Charleston where these sections are built up. All the fuselage sections should be in Everett in the next few days if they're not all there already. 

Boeing will load the first 787-9 into position 1 in 40-24 on May 30.  Sources revealed to me that this aircraft should transfer to position 2 around June 9...10 days after first being loaded into position 1 which is quite surprising since it takes about 11 to 12 days for each production 787-8 to progress down each line position.  Extrapolated this could mean that ZB001 would be assembled in about 40 days if there are no complications during the final assembly process.  I do expect it to be a little longer though due to systems integration testing during final assembly which would add about another week at most.  Thus ZB001 could take about 7 weeks in final assembly before it is rolled out to the paint hangar and eventually the flightline to begin gauntlet testing.  ZB001 could be out of 40-24 by the third to fourth week of July, another week for painting and out on the flightline in early August.

In somewhat related news on the production front, it does appear that Boeing will temporarily be slowing down 787-8 production as there looks to be some sort of construction going on within 40-26.  I surmise that Boeing will be getting rid of or modifying some of the original production tooling in position 1.  This would include the "MOATT" or "Mother Of All Tool Towers" which was envisioned as a device to quickly and efficiently join the fuselage sections along with the wings and horizontal and vertical stabilizers.  Unfortunately the promise of MOATT didn't live up to the reality and Boeing is now using some more traditional tools like overhead cranes to move around some of the larger structures like the wings.  These changes will ultimately help Boeing to get to 10/month but in the short term it will slow down production for a couple of weeks.  Because of this ZA562 (LN 127) for ILFC/Aeromexico won't be loaded until after June 9th, perhaps the 10th.  This shouldn't impact deliveries too much as Boeing is still trying to catch up on delayed deliveries due to the lithium ion battery issue which grounded the 787 and stopped deliveries.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

China to issue 787 airworthiness certificate early next week

UPDATE: CAAC, the Chinese aviation regulator has approved the 787 for use by the country's airlines today (5/23/13). China Southern shortly followed by Hainan should be taking delivery next week. Pilots from both carriers should be conducting customer test flights within the next few days, perhaps as early as today.

Thanks to our blog readers CX880 and Weijie Deng, a firmer picture now has emerged regarding the start of 787 deliveries to Chinese carriers. A team from China Southern Airlines is in Seattle to conduct customer flight(s) and to complete paperwork needed for delivery and payments. China's aviation regulators are expected to give its approval for its carriers to operate the 787 on May 27th and China Southern is expected to formally take delivery on May 28th. I expect China Southern to take delivery of 8 787s this year.  The first one to be delivered will be ZA380 (LN 34, B-2725).

Hainan can also take delivery of up to 2 787s this month from Boeing's Charleston facility. Both ZA431 (LN 76, B-2722) and ZA433 (LN 81, B-2723) are painted and have completed Boeing test flights and await us timer inspection and test flights. It is unclear if Hainan will take both this month or one but it does appear at the least that the deliveries will be closely spaced to one another. I expect Hainan to take delivery of 6 787s this year.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Revised 787 Delivery Projection for 2013

Back In January of this year and prior to the 787 grounding, I had published my 787 delivery expectations for 2013. While the Boeing continued to execute the production plan despite the grounding and even hit the 7/month production rate far earlier than I had projected, I was expecting that this rate break would occur in early July, it occurred in April when Boeing loaded ZA452 (LN 114, G-ZBJC), Boeing will still have the after effects of the delays to deliveries because of the grounding.  Boeing has a finite number of resources to devote to production flight and ground testing though I have no doubt that they will try to draw on the maximum number of test flight personnel to mitigate the effects of the grounding and get the deliveries back on schedule by the end of the year.

Boeing has said that they will deliver more than 60 787s this year.  Thus far they have delivered 3; one each to Air India, ANA, and LOT Polish and I believe that when 2013 is complete, Boeing would have delivered a total of 75 787s or which 10 would be pre-L/N 66 aircraft that had gone through the modification process at the EMC in Everett.  20 of these 75 aircraft would come from the final assembly line in Charleston, SC and the remainder from the Everett line.  This number does not include the 3 787-9s expected to be built in Everett and flying as part of the -9 flight testing and certification process.

One thing to note that this number includes 4 787s to be delivered to United Airlines.  UAL, its most latest 10Q filing with the SEC on April 25th, said they expect to receive 2 787s this year but I do not believe that this takes into account to increase in 787 production rate that occurred in April.  Their 10Q in July 2013 should shed a little bit more light on their delivery expectations.  Another measure to look at is the actual delivery date of the first 787 to Royal Brunei Airlines.  Before the grounding this airlines was expecting its first 787 around September 1, 2013.  If Boeing is able to deliver around this date then we know that they are back on schedule though there are some 51 787s ahead of it at this point.

Below is my table of the customers and how many 787s I expect them to receive from today on out to Dec. 31st.


Friday, May 17, 2013

May 787 Delivery Predictions

Here is a list of 787s that I expect to be delivered during the remainder of this month. Please note that the deliveries to the Chinese carriers are contingent upon the aircraft obtaining its airworthiness certificate from Chinese civil aviation authorities but booth China Southern and Hainan have said they expect their deliveries later this month.

Air India - ZA241 (LN 72, VT-ANM) - so far had 5 test flights and may have one more before being delivered

Hainan - 2 787 from Charleston - ZA431 (LN 76, B-2722) & ZA433 (LN 81, B-2723) pending certification and customer test flights

China Southern - ZA380 (LN 34, B-2725) pending certification and customer test flights

JAL - ZA184 (LN 89, JA830A) had three test flights thus far, may have one more to do

Thomson Airways - ZA317 (LN 92, G-TUIA) - Thomson's first 787 has had 5 test flights thus far.

These six together with the two already delivered would allow Boeing to claim 8 deliveries in May which would be a very healthy re-start to deliveries after three and a half months of growing inventory at Everett and Charleston.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boeing to start 787-9 final assembly on May 30

Source revealed that Boeing will load ZB001 (LN 126, N789EX) on May 30th. This should lead to the rollout of the aircraft approximately 2 months later in late August. First flight is anticipated later this fall though timing is still uncertain.

Boeing has taken delivery of ZB001's horizontal and vertical tail plane as well as the wings.  In the coming two weeks we should see the delivery of the fuselage sections into Everett.

Boeing is shifting production of 787-8s to the main 40-26 and 88-03 assembly lines in Everett in case issues with the assembly of the first 787-9 encounters problems in 40-24. Already Charleston is taking on more 787-8 but the bulk of the 787-8 production will go to the main final assembly in Everett.

The other two 787-9 test airplanes will follow ZB001 in the 40-24 surge line.

Meanwhile Boeing has resumed deliveries of the 787-8. ZA513 (LN83, JA818A) was delivered to ANA marking the airlines 18th 787 and Boeing's 51st 787 delivered.

LOT Polish Airlines was to have taken its 3rd 787 (ZA272, LN 86, SP-LRC) today but that is being delayed due to some minor issues with the aircraft. Delivery is now expected to take place around Thursday.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Upcoming 787 deliveries

Now that the battery modifications are underway Boeing is gearing up to re-start deliveries to customers.

First up will be deliveries to ANA and LOT Polish Airlines.  ANA (ZA512, LN 83, JA818A) should deliver tomorrow 5/13/2013 (flyaway the next day) while LOT Polish (ZA272, LN 86, SP-LRC) should deliver the following day on 5/14/2013 (flyaway the next day).

Thomson Airways is expecting their first 787 (ZA317, LN 92, G-TUIA) on 5/30/2013 with the second (ZA318, LN 94, G-TUIB) to follow on 6/2/2013.

JAL can also take delivery this week of ZA184 (LN 89, JA830J) though I haven't heard about a delivery date.

Hainan and China Southern could take their first 787s as early as the end of this month but that could easily slip into June since the delivery is waiting on Chinese aviation authorities certifying the 787 for use by Chinese carriers.

British Airways is looking to take delivery within the next few weeks but it does look like that they'll pick up their first 787s next month.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Air India 787 to perform at Paris Air Show

This is plain speculation on my part but Boeing may be prepping ZA242 (LN 90, VT-ANN) for Air India to put on a flying display at this years Paris Air Show in mid June.  The aircraft flew to Boeing Field last week then flew a flight on Friday at BOE787.  I believe that this flight was practice flight for an aerial demonstration at the show. Given the flight number it flew under is normally reserved for special marketing flights or for air show flights, I feel that this is strong evidence that this aircraft will by at the Paris Air Show.  If so this aircraft probably won't be delivered to Air India until mid to late June.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Transaero Airlines to get early build 787s

I got word that Boeing has officially allocated 3 very early build 787s to Transaero Airlines.  The three frames are ZA800 (LN 11), ZA801 (LN 12), and ZA803 (LN 14).  All three were previously going to be delivered to ANA but has since asked for later built 787s.  Boeing still has about 7 more that need to be re-allocated to other airlines.  These are among the group of 787s that are known as the "terrible teens."  It has been rumored that Transaero would pick up these aircraft from Boeing on the cheap when they closed on the order of 4 787s early last year.  It's also rumored that Lion Air will be picking up their 5 aircraft from this block as well but that change has yet to be reflected in the system.

Production flight testing has picked up today with ZA318 (LN 94, G-TUIB) for Thomson making its first flight today.  ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) made it 12th flight and this aircraft should be delivered to ANA late next week though it still has to go through customer acceptance flight(s). Two Charleston built 787s for Hainan  swapped places today as ZA431 (LN 76, B-2722) flew back to Charleston and ZA433 (LN 81, B-2723) flew to Ft. Worth for painting from Charleston.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Boeing BoD aproves ATO for 777X

Boeing Board of Director gave BCA the ok to enter into discussion with customers on the pricing, delivery, and technical aspects of the 777X a third generation of the large Boeing twin.  With this ATO, Boeing now has 2 large twins with the Authority to Offer to customer airlines but Boeing still needs to formally launch the aircraft once they have acceptable deals in place for each.

One question that still remains is where to build the 777X and especially the wings which Boeing plans to construct from composites (CFRP).  More than likely I expect that both the aircraft and the wing would be built in Everett due to the expense of establishing a new final assembly site along the difficulty of transporting a large wing from site to site.

I do think that it is not unreasonable to think that both the 787-10 and the 777X can be formally launched at the Paris Air Show though it can also happen at the Dubai Air Show in November.