Thus far through the end of May Boeing has delivered 33 787s. With 7 months to go in the year, Boeing needs to ramp up the delivery rate if it is to deliver 110 787s by the end of the year. That means they have to deliver 77 aircraft in the last 7 months...11/month delivery rate.
May was a disappointing month. I was expecting at least 10 deliveries and Boeing managed 7. If the theme sounds familiar it's because it is. There is an expectations that Boeing delivery rate will match the 787 build rate which currently is at 10/month though the airplanes that have emerged from final assembly still have minor travelled work that needs to be completed. An interesting side to the delivery story for May though. Boeing, it seems had delivered 2 787s to Air India last month while the official tally on Boeing's Order and Delivery website show that they delivered 1 to the carrier. Sources have confirmed to me that Boeing did indeed make contractual delivery of ZA232 (LN 28, VT-ANC) though this aircraft still remains in Charleston. The reason for this is still unknown.
Boeing has ramped up 787 flight activity significantly and has delivered 4 787s through the first 10 days of June. Some of these deliveries were slated for May but had rolled into June. Boeing will need to deliver at least 7 more 787s which, at least for now, looks like they can accomplish easily. They currently have 11 787s that are in production testing or that are ready for delivery. I do think that 8 to 9 of those can be delivered this month. Boeing should deliver the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand on June 30th pending a decision by the FAA (see below). ZB003 (LN 169, ZK-NZE) has been flying lately and should be ready for delivery in the next couple of weeks. Boeing will probably run a few more flight than they typically do in order to work out all the bugs and make sure that the aircraft has sufficient maturity to enter airline service.
Flightglobal revealed that Boeing is asking the FAA for a waiver in order to deliver the 787-9. The request is related to two items that are not compliant with the certification standards that Boeing and the FAA agreed to concerning the 787-9. Boeing is scheduled to deliver ZB003 (LN 169, ZK-NZE), the first 787-9, to Air New Zealand on June 30th. The two issues are 1) a capacitor in the ram Air turbine (RAT) that failed during a flight test. This capacitor needs to be redesign and certified for use on the aircraft. The second issues relates to a dial on a control panel in the cockpit of the aircraft. The dial is altitude select knob that is used in the vertical flight mode. The dial can be inadvertently rotate 1 or 2 stops beyond the desired setting if the pilot just presses the knob and thus violate altitude range set by the ATC. There is a lack of sufficient torque that is causing this issue. This will be watched closely to see what the FAA will do but it is concerning especially since the 787-9 flight testing has gone so well. Boeing doesn't want to deliver this aircraft late even by a few weeks let alone a few months.
Most of the 787-9 testing appears to have been completed though Boeing still has to undertake F&R/ETOPs flight testing using an production aircraft equipped with the GE GEnX-1B engines. I anticipate that ZB167 (LN 181, N38950) should take to the air within the next 10 to 14 days and should fly a comparable number of hours as ZB197 (LN146, JA830A).
Charleston Production Ramp Up
Boeing is preparing to ramp up the 787 production at Charleston to 3/month from the current 2. This switch should take place in early to mid July. Boeing is currently loading a 787 into Position 1A every 12 to 13 days. They will need to load one every 10 days but the number of available assembly spots to conduct assembly activities has been reduced to 6 from 8 as two positions are undergoing construction (Position 1B and Position 6).
Boeing did get some good news from the FAA last month when the approved the 787-8 for ETOPS 330. This means the 787-8 can operate from an airport that is no further than five and half hours flying time in case of an emergency. This means the carriers can fly more direct and fuel efficient routes, especially over the Pacific and fully take advantage of the 787s capabilities. It is now up to the local civil aviation regulators to approve or deny the airlines that are under their oversight to fly the 787 under ETOPS 330. The 787-9 will not receive this certification until much later but it will probably be Boeing's next major certification as Air New Zealand is eager to have the aircraft certified for ETOPS 330. I do not know when Boeing plans to achieve ETOPS 330 certification for the 787-9.