Boeing reported 3rd quarter 787 deliveries on Thursday and, given the issues of the past quarter, were surprisingly good. Boeing has delivered 18 787s in the first quarter of 2014 and 132 through March 31st. To date Boeing has delivered 133 787s.
I was full expecting 787 deliveries to be curtailed during this quarter due to the on going travelled work as well as the wing inspections. In March Boeing delivered 10 787s of these 6 of them were in the batch that had been identified as needing wing inspections and possible repairs. This suggests that not all the 787 in the batch which includes LN 151 to LN 193 inclusive may have the wing issues. Future deliveries may not be hurt as much as was feared due to this issue. Notable deliveries were made to Kenya Airways, 2 each to Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways as well as deliveries to Royal Brunei, Aeromexico, Norwegian, United Airlines, and Air India (the first 787 assembled for them). So far so good. However, Boeing needs to maintain a delivery rate of 10/month in order to meet their guidance of 100-110 787 deliveries in 2014. They were hurt by low deliveries in February where the expectation was to be a significantly higher delivery rate compared to the 4 that were actually handed over.
Production seems to have moved back to a regular pace since the travelled work issues forced Boeing to extend the amount of time that each airframe was spent in final assembly. At the start of the year air frames were spending 34 days in final assembly. This grew to as many as 42 days but now looks to be trending down. The last aircraft to be rolled out, ZA136 (LN 179) for ANA spent 37 days in final assembly. Boeing expects to be over the travelled work issues by the time LN 195 is loaded into Position 1A sometime next Friday. According to sources, the travelled work has greatly improved thus I do expect that by May Boeing will have stabilized the production system for the 787. They are are still building at a rate of 10/month according to my data.
While it is still early in April, Boeing does need to pick up the pace of production flight tests. They have delivered 1 787 to Qatar Airways on April 1 and have started customer flights on ZA275 (LN 161, SP-LRF) for LOT. This aircraft may deliver as early as next week. However there are only 4 other aircraft that have started production flights and none of those have had customer flights as of yet. ZA472 (LN 150, A7-BCM) is probably the closest to having customer flights. There has been a notable lack of 787 B-1 flights, the last came on March 25th...11 days ago. Moreover aircraft that have been out on the flightline for sometime don't appear ready to start production flights. ZA610 (LN 160, C-GHPQ) was observed by Matt Cawby going back into the EMC for an unknown reason. Air Canada maintains that they expect their first 787 this spring but there hasn't been anything regarding a month. They may be able to deliver 10 787s this month but they need to start getting these airplanes into the air.
787-9 flight testing has been steaming along with very few hitches. It appears that Boeing is on the cusp of starting functionality and reliability and ETOPs flight testing very soon. ZB197 (LN 146, JA830A) was observed by Matt Cawby as having a US civil registration decal. I think this aircraft should be conducting its first flight within the next one week and subsequently join the 787-9 test flight program. The program has accumulated well over 1000 flight test hours and about 450 test flights. It is expected that will accumulated over 1500 flight test hours by the time Boeing is done. ZB197 will perform the F& R/ETOPs flight tests for the 787-9 powered by Roll Royce, ZB167 (LN 181) for United Airlines will undertake the same testing for the GE powered version of the 787-9. This aircraft should roll out around Monday, April 7th. I would expect it to start flying around mid to late May. It is around this time that flight testing on the Rolls Royce powered 787-9 should almost be complete.
As far as April deliveries are concerned, we've already seen one aircraft delivered to Qatar Airways. There should be two more than should deliver relatively soon: ZA 275 (LN 161, SP-LRF) for LOT Polish, and ZA472 (LN 150, A7-BCM) for Qatar. Other carriers that may see deliveries include: Air Canada, Ethiopian, Air India, Hainan, Aeromexico, Norwegian, Royal Brunei, and Jetstar (QANTAS). A few of the still have to conduct a first flight and more still have to conduct follow on Boeing flights.
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