What's in store for the 787 program in 2014. A lot it appears. Let's take a look at what is expected for this program:
Undoubtedly, the biggest development that will come in 2014 is the certification and entry into service of the larger version of the 787, the 787-9. This aircraft is already in the middle of certification testing by Boeing with FAA personnel on board observing. First delivery of ZB003 is scheduled for sometime in July of 2014 which indicates that Boeing should be complete with testing around May of this year. The FAA should give its blessing around mid to late June and first delivery in July to Air New Zealand. Boeing is giving ANZ a preview as it flies ZB002 to Auckland tonight where it will be toured by company brass and local media. ZB002 will be eventually delivered to ANZ after it is refurbished at the conclusion of the testing and certification program (along with ZB001).
All indications are that the testing is going well though there hasn't been much official word from Boeing regarding progress. ANZ plans to use the aircraft on routes from Auckland to Perth, Christchurch, Shanghai and Tokyo with the 3 aircraft they expect in 2014. ANZ is expected to stat service on Oct. 15, 2014 on the Auckland-Perth route.
Boeing has been bombarded with reliability issues which have caused numerous headaches for their customers and the flying passengers. Boeing has promised to get these issues down over the next 6 months so that the dispatch rates of the 787 will be at or better of the 777 rates. Most of the issues seem to emanate from software and the frequency of warning messages that the pilots receive in the cockpit. This has caused a lot of needless delays and cancellations. Boeing is planning a major software change that will be certified by the middle of 2014 to reduce these false warning messages. There are some who believe that this will not be the answer or the end to the reliability issues of the 787.
Boeing has stated that 787 production has hit the promised goal of 10/month. December was a slower month due to the Holiday season but I do expect that they will start to pick up the production pace this month at the 10/month rate. I do expect that Charleston will be at 2/month while Everett will split the 8/month between the main line in 40-26 and the surge line in 40-24.
Now that the 787-10 has launched, Boeing will be pouring engineering resources into the design of the aircraft this year. I expect the firm configuration to be completed next year with detailed design in 2016, final assembly of first flight of the first 787-10 in 2017 and delivery in 2018. I do expect more order for the 787-10 but I think many of them will come in the form of conversions or exercising options and purchase rights.
Now that Boeing is hitting a rate of 10/month, this begs the questions of how many can they deliver in 2014. In terms of new builds, I can see Boeing delivering around 100 to 110 aircraft. Remember, the production rate is vastly different from the delivery rate which is still not stable. In terms of the aircraft working their way through change incorporation, I do believe Boeing can deliver around 7 to 9 aircraft. This is a huge year over yer increase in deliveries but Boeing needs to execute if they want to regain integrity in the program.
There will be some new customers for the 787 this year. Many are publicly known but there are some operators who will be receiving the aircraft on a lease basis. Here is a list of airlines that will be taking their first 787s this year, though it is not a comprehensive list.
Air New Zealand
BBJ-Saudi Ministry of Finance
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Scoot Pte Ltd
Virgin Atlantic Airways
There are some current customers who will take their first 787-9 this year including ANA and JAL
Full 787 List
Current 787 Production List
Delivered 787 List
787 Monthly Delivery Tracking
787 Customer Delivery
787-9 Flight Test Hours
Current 787 Operators