Boeing delivered a total of 4 787s in January a decrease of 7 month over month from December's 11 deliveries. I expected that the number was going to be lower due to the holidays in December which is a time that production usually takes a break company wide. However, I was forecasting 8 deliveries some of which were just recently delivered aircraft in early February. I was expecting that Qatar would have taken deliveries last month but apparently they are not ready to take possession. Qatar has been notoriously picky in their inspections of the aircraft. There are 4 that are complete at Charleston and outside on the flightline.
So far in February, Boeing has delivered 3 . Almost midway through the month of February, Boeing hasn't conducted too many B-1 flights of the aircraft that have rolled out of the final assembly buildings. In fact Boeing has conducted only 3 first flights of production 787s. Many of the 787s coming out of 40-24 or 40-26 went to the flightline or the EMC without paint. This is to finish any traveled work that was left un done due to the issues in Charleston's mid-body assembly building. While those tasks that went uncompleted in Charleston were probably finished during final assembly, that meant pushing other final assembly tasks to a time after the aircraft rolled out. This is probably the work that went on the flightline and at the EMC. Some of those planes have finished the traveled work and have been or are currently being painted. So far it looks like the 787s that are rolling out needs to spend one more week to finish the traveled work at the EMC before releasing the aircraft to go to paint and subsequent pre-delivery ground and flight tests. Boeing is continuing to move the mid-body fuselages through each of the assembly cells in 88-20 and then deliver them to Everett of Charleston's 88-30 building for final assembly regardless of the shape that they're in and the amount of work that is left to be done. Boeing is more intent on maintaining rate of 10/month and the traveled work will be done after the airplanes have moved out of final assembly. While this may be all well and good in the short term it could have long lasting impacts if the issues in 88-20 are not corrected quickly. Deliveries could certainly fall behind and the FAA may inquire as to what exactly in going on in Charleston and why.
The key things to watch for is if Boeing is still sending airplanes that had just been rolled out to paint, the flightline or the EMC. If it is the later, then we need to see how long they spend at the EMC before going to paint and then on to the flightline.
Boeing is attributing the flow issues in Charleston's 88-20 mid-body assembly building to the introduction of the 787-9 as well as the increase in rate to 10/month. However, Boeing should have also attributed the chaos in 88-20 to the laying off of the contract workers in Charleston months earlier. Workers that they are now hiring back to get the mid-body assembly back on track.
Given Boeing's plans for Charleston especially with the planned rate increases in the coming years and if the rumors of the plant taking on all 787-10 assembly is true, then Boeing will need to have these contract workers around for a very long time to come.
Given the unpredictability of the issues that Boeing with the program especially with regards to the mid-body fuselage and the knock on effects that the traveled work has caused to downstream planning of testing and delivery activities, it is hard to predict how many 787s will be eventually delivered this month...and we're already near mid-month.
This may crimp Boeing's plan to deliver 110 aircraft this year though it is still yet too early to arrive at that conclusion definitively. Boeing is struggling to get dispatch reliability to over 99% and currently they are at over 98% which is good but not satisfactory to Boeing or the 787 operators.
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