Sunday, February 23, 2014

787 Traveled Work: How much time is needed?

The issues in Charleston has forced Boeing to carve out more time to prepare the 787s currently coming out of final assembly.  Thus far it is unclear how much more time is needed to finish all the traveled work in this posting I'll try to take a stab at determining how much more time is needed.

Usually, Boeing send the aircraft straight from final assembly to the paint hangar with perhaps a couple of days outside.  With the current situation, Boeing is now sending airplanes directly to the EMC to finish assembly activities before they are painted. 

Using my data along with Matt Cawby's Tweets of 787 movements out of the paint hangar, I was able to get an idea of time from roll out from final assembly through painting.  Matt Cawby has been tweeting when 787s exit final assembly as well as when they come out of the paint hangar.  For the last few 787s I've created a table that explores the additional time that is needed to finish these aircraft.  I am assuming that when the aircraft is transferred from the EMC (Everett Modification Center) to the flightline or the paint hangar, that it is completed all necessary travelled work and is now resuming the normal production sequence to prepare it for first flight and eventual delivery to the customer.



According to the data, the average time between roll out of the aircraft fro final assembly to the time it is taken out of the paint hangar or is observed on the flightline is about 15 days. Painting itself would take anywhere from 4 to 7 days depending on the complexity of the scheme being applied and the customer's satisfaction with the paint job. 

Using these assumptions along with observed data, it is reasonable to assume that the aircraft spends anywhere from 10 to 12 days at the EMC to finish off the traveled work resulting from the problems at Charleston.  I do expect that this should go down as the number of contracted workers increase and reduce the number of jobs over the next few months.

The most interesting question is will Boeing need to hire these contracted employees on a permanent basis in South Carolina in order to stay at rate (not to mention to assist when they increase to 12 and eventually 14 aircraft per month)?  If so, one has to wonder what this would cost Boeing and the 787 program in terms of profitability.


Czarina Putin contemplating the effect of traveled work on the 787 program.

2 comments:

Jason Coulthard said...

4 deliveries in February, after 4 deliveries in January... I thought the program was producing 10 AP's per month?!? Guess Boeing broke rate because the schedule said it was time, and not because the production system was actually capable.

Chasing unrealistic schedules is not a smart way to run the business, as the production crisis of the 90's and the early days of the 787 program should have taught us by now. How are we supposed to take cost out of the program when we keep piling up partially completed airplanes?

Cedar Glen said...

I guess this comes up again... Other parts of the AV press have mentioned it in recent days... That of the "Terrible Teens," "The Fat Queens," and other terms used to describe the 'teen' generation of 787-8 line numbers that sit on a closed runway at KPAE, awaiting both buyers and their turn in the EMC. How many are there? Bloomberg and others are suggesting that these frames are being offered at slightly under half the 'list price,' a more-or-less meaningless number, and that some of them are close to FIVE TONS over target gross weight. Pundits suggest that their operating range could be reduced by as much a 1K stature miles; Bloomberg also suggests that they may find homes on short/medium, high-density markets in Asia. (Remember the high density 747 variant that Boeing made for the Japanese market many years ago?) What is your take on the future of these "Obese Teen" aircraft. I understand that Boeing has 10-12 of them 'in-stock.' How low will the price have to go before Boeing decided to store or simply scrap them. And, if they opt for long term storage, how much work/re-work will they require, just to make a ferry flight? Another way to pose the question might be, 'Just how bad are these few airplanes?' Any ideas? Thanks.