Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Flightblogger: 787 Update for 2009

Jon Ostrower has posted a great updates for the near term milestones that Boeing hopes to accomplish with the 787 on the road to first flight.

Please read it here.

Here is a summary:

Dreamliner 1 will leave the 787 final assembly bay in 40-26 and will go to a spot in the 767 final assembly building in 40-24. It will occupy a spot that the 787 fatigue test frame occupies. ZY998 will be towed to the Everett flight line where it will be completed and towed to the fatigue test area.

Dreamliner 1 will be in 40-24 for one month to finish up fastener replacement and minor assembly tasks. It will then start the first of three gauntlet tests. The first is the factory gauntlet where the flight test division puts the 787's systems through its paces.

After that Dreamliner 1 will go through the aqueous wash and the repainting as reported on this blog earlier in December.

By the end of March Dreamliner 1 will start the 2nd gauntlet test which is the starting of it's RR Trent 1000 engines for the very first time. The last guantlet is the running of all the 787 systems for 8 days straight to ensure that there aren't any issues.

Presumably, taxi test and RTO (rejected take off) tests will occur soon after the third gauntlet followed by first flight.

Dreamliner 2 is continuing fastener replacement which should be concluded by mid February. Then this aircraft will conduct ground vibrations testing presumably from late February to late March. There is still no word on when Dreamliner 2 will finish assembly and join the flight test program.

With the first 787 leaving the factory floor, this will now open up a spot in the final assembly hall for Dreamliner 5. The aft section of which will probably be delivered to Everett by the end of January. The wings, horizontal stab and vertical stab are all at Everett. The main fuselage section is being paced by the fastener replacement work that is on going. No word on the forward fuselage section but I presume that there is still on going fastener work with that airplane as well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

LN 2 and Beyond: The Impact to Certification

I just got confirmation that LN 2 (ZA002) most likely won't make it's first flight until the summer of 2009. The reason is due to a lot of traveled work yet to be done on the airplane and the shifting of resources to finish LN 1. All that along with the fastener issues have impacted LN 2 shop completion date.

This can slow down the certification efforts by Boeing for the 787.

However after airplane 2 is completed the pace assembly will pick up due to the more complete states of the follow on aircraft delivered into Everett. LN 3 should be done about a month after LN 2 and LN 4 not too long after that as it was delivered mostly complete and with very little traveled work.

It is projected that LN 7 should be 98% complete by the time it arrives in Everett and LN 8 should be shop complete when those sections arrive in Everett for preintergration.

The question now is how will LN 2's first flight in the late summer impact on the certification and EIS of the 787?

FAA Approves 787 Schedule Maintenance Plan

From a Boeing Press Release, the FAA has approved Boeing's plan for the 787 schedule maintenance.
This plan dictates when and what sort of maintenance check are required for the airplane.

787 Schedule Confirmation

Geoffrey Thomas at ATW has confirmed what was reported in this blog last week. Read his article here. Here's the link to the original blog post.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

787 Schedule

In light of the 787 schedule push back that Boeing revealed earlier this month I was able to learn from sources of the immediate schedule going forward.

First the main news: Boeing is hoping to schedule first flight for sometime around late April 2009. My guess: April 20th.

Around Dec. 23 to December 28th of this year, Dreamliner 1, ZA001, will have an aqueous wash of the wing fuel tanks. This indicates that the wing build and the wing instrumentation is pretty much complete. The aqueous wash is to remove carbon shavings and other contaminants from the wing fuel tanks. It's not known if it has to be rolled out of the assembly building for this wash.
The fastener replacement on ZA001 should be completed by the end of December.

ZA002 should have it's fastener replacment done by mid February but it may not have its first flight until August of 2009. I have not yet found out why ZA002 is so far behind and it could put the entire certification schedule for the 787 into disarray.

ZA001 will leave building 40-26 (the final assembly building) for the paint shop around Feb. 24th to get a fresh coat of paint which should be done by March 2. After that ZA001 might go to 40-24 prior to going to the paint hanger though that has not been decided yet. ZA001 might be factory complete by Feb. 24th though there might be some traveled work taken out to the flight line.

Lastly, ZY998, the fatigue test air frame might be moved to the flight line prior to year end even though the build is not yet complete. No reason is known.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Breaking News: SPEEA and Boeing reaches 4 year contract deal

Just out on the newswires: SPEEA says that they reached a 4 year contract with Boeing. Details tonight.

The Seattle P-I also has the story here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Presidential Elections

BREAKING: 787 not to fly in '08

This is breaking news that just came out on the newswires. Boeing announced that the 787 first flight will not take place by the end of the 4th quarter 2008. Boeing doesn't yet have a new timeline regarding the 787. This was reported by Vyonne Leach in response to questions and reported on Bloomberg. Read the Bloomberg story here.

This is on top of the news earlier today that Boeing found that about 3% of the fasteners on all four Dreamliners under final assembly were incorrectly installed. Read that report here and here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Aviation Centers and museums

The former Grumman facilities at Bethpage

Richard Aboulafia wrote a great piece on his web site describing how aviation centers have disappeared and provides a convincing story of how commercial aircarft manufacturing can disappear from the Seattle area.

He uses the Long Island region (where I live) as an example. All that's left from Long Island's aviation tradition are a few museums and dilapidated buildings like the one's in Bethpage, NY. I live a couple miles away from Grumman's former industrial campus (in Bethpage) that and there is another one few miles away at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, NY which was the factory site of Republic Aircraft which built the P-47, F-105 and the A-10. There's a small museum there now. Will the IAM (and SPEEA) turn Everett and Renton into aviation museums. Looks like they've started that process. Read Richard's article here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

787 brake issue resolved

UPDATE : Matt Cawby posted a couple of pics showing trucks delivering 787 parts outside building 40-26. He also stated that the inboard wing flaps should be installed very soon and that the thrust reversers are on. See his post here. Also I talked to a 787 machinist and he's and some others he knows plan on voting yes on the contract. He feels that this is the best contract that they can get and if it's rejected then they won't get as good a contract. He also said that some people were misunderstanding the verbiage of the contract which was leading to misunderstandings of what is being proposed to the workers. He said that he'll be very, very unhappy if it's rejected.

According to Saj Ahmad of Fleetbuzz in an editorial that you can read here the brake issue that had threaten the 787 first flight (before any strike related delays came into play) have been resolved. Crane Aerospace have resolved the brake software issues.

This should clear the way for first flight depending on what happens this weekend and Boeing's own assessment of the 787 program post strike.

In the same article, Saj also reports that the A350 program is having issues of its own. The design freeze milestone was supposed to be this month. This milestone freezes the external configuration of the aircraft and starts the process for the detail design work to proceed.

Apparently Airbus is able to only do a partial design freeze. Saj reports that the final design freeze can slip to the 2nd quarter 2009 and can have consequences for Airbus' planned service entry in 2013.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where does Boeing go from here?

Ok now that there is a tentative deal with IAM 751 with Boeing let's take a look at what happens here on out. First the IAM membership has to ratify the contract that it's leadership has unanimously endorsed to it's members.

Look for ratification by the end of this weekend at the very latest and the return to production very soon after that. I would say that Everett and Renton would be back on line before election day. at the latest.

Next up...SPEEA and those contract negotiations. While it is hard to predict, I do think that since SPEEA and IAM were coordinating to a point there efforts against Boeing management that the contract that was negotiated with IAM will essentially be the same contract that is presented to SPEEA and will be likely accepted by SPEEA. With the financial markets and the global economy in a tailspin it will not be in SPEEA's interest to go out on strike especially when Boeing gave a very good contract to IAM. I think this contract was aimed at both SPEEA as well as IAM and it will probably be enough to avoid and engineers strike on December 1st.

Now looking ahead to the 787, it is a pretty much a no brainer that the 787 first flight will not take place before December 31st, 2008. There is still plenty of work to do but let's assume that the work stoppage is ultimately 60 days (2 months) and add in 10 days for unknown unknowns, then first flight can possibly take place 70 days after the machinists return to work. I'm assuming that they return around November 1st so it is possible for the 787 first flight to take place as early as January 10th, 2009. But this is all dependent on many factors:

1) Before the strike Boeing was looking at factory completion of LN 1 around early to mid November which is about a month off thus the first flight could take place as early as February
2) Despite the strike there was work being done on LN 1. There was the crossing of the lines by some machinists who came under severe financial stress though it's not known if any were 787 machinists
3) LN 2 needs to be completed and under go vibration testing prior to first flight of LN 2. I hear that power may not even be on in this aircraft yet though that is unconfirmed.

Boeing will probably give a new schedule and production assessment after the machinist return to work but I think that it would be reasonable to assume that first flight will not occur until January to February 2009.

Lastly one thing to think about. The labor actions of the last couple months and the continuing negotiations with SPEEA has probably left a sour taste in the mouths of all involved. I wouldn't be surprised if Boeing starts the process of moving out airliner production out of Washington State into area which is less union friendly like Texas, Arizona an the US Southeast.

I think it's a no brainer that commercial aircraft production is on its way out at Everett. It'll probably start with 787 production moving to San Antonio and then possibly followed by 777 and 737 moving to a state(s) where the unions are not highly regarded like Alabama or South Carolina. IAM has ultimately shot itself in the foot. Certainly the Yellowstone 3 (large widebody) and Yellowstone 1 (737 RS) will be built at another location.

Monday, October 27, 2008

BREAKING: IAM and Boeing reach tentative deal

Just out on the wires:

"SEATTLE - A Machinists union spokesman has reported a tentative settlement to end a strike that has shut down Boeing Co.'s commercial airplane operations since Sept. 6.
Francis "Frank" Larkin, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press the deal was reached Monday evening.
Boeing spokesman Tim Healy in Seattle says he's checking on the report. The apparent breakthrough came on the fifth day of talks at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in the nation's capital.
Full details were not immediately available, but according to the union's Web site, it's a four-year deal. A vote will take place in three-to-five days, once all members have had a chance to look it over.
IAM workers went on strike Sept. 6, three days after Boeing's last offer was rejected with an 87 percent strike vote. Two days of last-ditch talks to avoid a strike failed, and another round of negotiations this month collapsed in the second day.
The union represents about 25,000 workers in and around Seattle, 1,500 in Gresham, Ore., and 750 in Wichita, Kan. Key issues include job security, wages, retirement benefits and medical coverage.
But the Machinists union isn't the only one locking horns with the Boeing Company these days.
SPEEA, the union representing engineers and technical workers also has more than 20,000 members in Puget Sound. Contract talks will enter their final phase at a Seattle-area hotel Tuesday. SPEEA's two contracts, one covering professionals and the other hourly technical workers, expire Dec. 1
“If they present a last, best and final offer that doesn't reward these employees for the success they brought to the company, they may very well vote to strike,” said Ray Goforth, SPEEA Executive Director.Take the issue of outsourcing. It's not only a big issue for Machinists who want to keep outside contractors out of the plants, but also for engineers, only the issue is different.
For example, SPEEA says the company tried to outsource too much engineering work on the 787, not to mention most of the parts, leading to more than a year-and-a-half’s worth of delays. The engineers want a say in the next airplane.
“That the engineering and technical employees have a serious voice in how it's set up. There are components of these planes where it makes sense to outsource and some components where it doesn't make sense to outsource,” said Goforth.
SPEEA has only had one major strike -- 40 days in 2000. The company says it is optimistic a deal can be reached in the next few weeks and a strike averted.
“We feel we have a process that works. It's worked the past couple of contracts. In fact, the contracts Boeing's offered has been approved by 80 percent of the voters,” said Boeing spokeswoman Karen Fincutter. "

Also read IAM press release about the settlement here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vought may shut down North Charleston plant

In a press release, Vought is considering shutting down it's 787 operations in North Charleston. Currently, Vought has stopped production of the rear fuselage section (sections 47 and 48), reduced outside contractors, and redeployed most of the current workforce towards completing the existing sections (up to airplane 19).

Here is the relevant section of the press release pertaining to Vought's 787 production:

"787 Dreamliner Program A number of actions are being taken on the 787 program at Vought’s North Charleston facility because of the continuing Boeing IAM strike, coupled with the effects of previous 787 program schedule delays. Given that Vought has already fabricated enough barrels to support deliveries through airplane 19, the company must continue to slow its production rate and take the necessary actions across the program. Up until now, Vought has only released most of its outside assembly contractor workforce. Today, in addition to continuing this action, the company announced it is suspending its 787 composite bond fabrication operations, which will affect production and production support personnel. Assembly employees will also be redeployed to concentrate on existing fuselages closest to completion. Over the next 30 days, a variety of additional actions related to its 787 program activities are being considered, including the possible temporary shutdown of the entire plant. “This is a challenging time for all of us who support the Dreamliner program,“ said Joy Romero, vice president and general manager, 787 Program. “Since the beginning of the Boeing strike, we’ve been looking at ways to mitigate potential employee job loss in North Charleston, including the initial reduction of outside contract labor. We plan to work with our employees to identify temporary redeployment opportunities at other Vought locations, where possible. This activity will require everyone’s patience, focused attention, and best effort to ensure a smooth continuation of required work activities, while continuing to provide customer support.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

AMR to buy the 787

(Image Courtesy of American Airlines)
Well after years of waiting AMR, the parent of American Airlines is finally buying the 787. The surprise is that they are buying 42 of the larger 787-9s and not the 787-8. It was widely assumed that when AA pulled the trigger on the 787 order it would be for the -8 version. AMR also has options on 58 more 787s for delivery between 2015 and 2020.

Now this is not a finalized order, it's only a purchase agreement. First delivery is for September 2012 but AA must give Boeing notice of its intent to pay for and take delivery of each 787 18 months prior to delivery. AMR said in its press release that it must conclude a new contract with its pilots union prior to going forward. This means that AMR must conclude an agreement by March 2011 in order for this purchase agreement to be finalized with Boeing.

This part reminds all of us of the issue that Air Canada had when it pursued it's widebody fleet renewal with Boeing. AC had to also finalize a contract with its own pilots union before the purchase agreement could be finalized. When the pilots union rejected managements contract (due to infighting within the union) the contract was scuttled only to be resurrected some months later after the union issues were resolved.

Boeing is still dealing with its own union issues and there is no end in sight unfortunately. 787 #1 is almost all ready and was probably about a month from being shop complete when the strike hit. The engines are on and the static test airframe passed the critical high blow tests in late September with two more critical tests that need to be completed before first flight (those should be close to being completed by the end of the month). However, Dreamliner 2 must also be completed prior to first flight in order to undertake vibrations tests before first flight. Al in all it looks like first flight will be pushed to January - February of 2009 at the earliest.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Effects of the strike on the 787

About a week and a half ago a Boeing 747 LCF made a routine delivery flight from Nagoya, Japan to Charleston, SC stopping in Anchorage, Alaska to refuel. Now typically these delivery flight are routine and usually not the subject of a blog entry but with the IAM strike going on at Boeing, it does underscore a couple of things about the what is happening with Boeing’s production model and it’s relationship with outside contractors and its labor unions.

First let’s look at the 787 as of late last week. Jon Ostrower, reported in his blog that ZA001 had its nose cone attached and that the airplane is sitting on its wheels which means that the landing gear swing tests seem to have been completed. Jon also says that he saw flight test equipment on the airplane. Right now the impediment to Boeing getting the plane out the door (other than the strike) is getting the remaining flight test and cabin equipment installed on board as well as knock on effects from some small systems integration issues. Schedule margin is tight without the strike as it is and Jon and Scott Hamilton reported that first flight would be delayed as much as 5 weeks (into mid December at the latest) before any strike effects.

Adding to the pressure of the 787 program is a report by Geoffrey Thomas saying that the production problems on the 787 are hurting new sales of the airplane. Apparently, delivery slots are not available until 2020 which means that the impact of the production problems have effectively pushed out the earliest delivery slots by about 2 to 3 years unless Boeing can manage an orderly increase of 787 output to about 14/month.

Now because there is strike on doesn’t mean that work on the 787 has come to a grinding halt as evidenced by the LCF flights this week. The tier 1 contractors like Global Aeronautica, Vought and Mitsubishi will continue to produce their respective work packages for as long as they possibly can (without shipping further sections and wings to Everett). Depending on when the strike ends, this work during the strike period will eliminate traveled work going to Everett. Boeing can restart production on LN 5 when those parts arrive with no traveled work to be done thus utilizing the 787 production line in a manner it was intended. This can only help in increasing the production rate of the 787 in the near term. So while the strike is on going at Boeing that hasn’t completely bought the 787 production to a grinding halt and may in fact help the production system recover fully by the time the strike ends. One note to all this is that some Boeing’s 787 suppliers are starting to cut back on production, namely Spirit has said they are cutting back on production on some of the products they supply to Boeing without citing any specific Boeing programs. At the end of the day there will be progress in the suppliers’ efforts to clean up the production mess and get their end of the business back on track because of the strike. If Boeing can get its end in order then the production model for the 787 can be a big success.
Read an AP report here.

That all said the question that should be asked (and so far has not) is the IAM being very short sighted in its on the issue of outsourcing. James Bell Boeing’s CFO said at a conference yesterday:
The union, he said, "would like all of the work to be done in the Puget Sound area and that's not realistic." Boeing, he explained, would like "complete flexibility" to outsource work to suppliers; "We have to figure out what's the right balance."
There is nothing that could stop Boeing from selling its Renton and Everett plants to an investor thus turning Boeing into a pure systems integrator and having Renton and Everett bid on work packages much like other firms did when they went shopping for suppliers for the 787. We’ve already seen that happen with Boeing Wichita when those operations were sold to Onex Corp. and was renamed Spirit Aerosystems. Is something like that going to happen, probably no but it is plausible. It is one thing for the IAM to fight for better wages and health care benefits for their membership and their retirees but it is another thing to try and dictate to Boeing management what can be built where in a world of tight margins and intense price competition from Airbus. To see how much things have changed Spirit is going to be building fuselage panels for the A350 for Airbus. Clearly outsourcing is not just an American phenomenon but a global one and Boeing competes on a global stage.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gulf Air increases 787 order

With the strike looming over Boeing's head like the Sword of Damocles, the builder of the 787 received some good news when Gulf Air exercised 8 787 options. If this is firm order that is booked tomorrow in Boeing's weekly order update then the exercise of this options would take Boeing to over 900 787 on firm order. Gulf Air currently has 16 787-8 on order with the 8 options.

You can read the article from Gulf Daily New here.

LCFs evacuate Charleston

Two of Boeing LCFs left Charleston, SC this morning. The two flight plans filed showed one aircraft heading to Pinal Airpark in Arizona and another heading for Anchorage, Alaska. Here are the flightaware flight plans here and here.

Hurricane Hannah is over Bermuda and the current projected track shows it heading to the Charleston, SC area by Saturday morning. I'm not sure what other preparations Vought, Boeing and Alenia are making for the 787 plant in Charleston.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Flightblogger reports possible 787 schedule slip

Jon Ostrower is reporting that there may be a schedule slip to the 1st flight of the 787 from mid December to possibly into early January, 2009. The reason behind the potential delay is not related to the potential strike by the IAM but rather to outfitting ZA001 with flight test and other cabin equipment. Also there was some time consuming trouble shooting related to some small systems integration issues but the net result of all this is eating up mostif not all the margin that program managers had left for themselves.

Read Jon's story here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Countdown to a strike?

With Boeing's best and final offer out for the IAM and it's membership to study, a countdown has started towards midnight, September 4th. Boeing's offer called for a 11% increase in wages over three years. IAM was looking for 9 to 13% over the same period but was targeting the upper range of that number. An interesting offer was giving each worker $2,500 if they approve the new contract by September 3rd. Clearly, they're trying to talk directly to the machinists. There was also substantial improvements in benefits and Boeing has taken many issues off the table that IAM had objected to including moving to a 401(k) style retirement plan. One thing that Boeing is holding a line on is outsourcing which has formed the backbone of the 787 manufacturing process.

One experienced Everett employee that I talked to termed the final offer as "complete BS" as he'll receive only a pay increase of amounting to only $.25/hour and that new hires behind would essentially be making the same as him. He feels that he's not being paid for the time that he's put in.

Clearly there is dissatisfaction in the IAM ranks over this contract. However, there will be quite a few who will support it. I think particularly the older machinists will be more inclined to support this proposal because of the improvements in the wage and health care options. Boeing's strategy is to repeat what happened in 2002. In that negotiation 62% of the machinists voted against Boeing's proposal. But since they needed a 67% vote majority to go out on strike the proposal was automatically triggered and was forced upon the union membership. Clearly Boeing is hoping that this will be the case this time around.

This could have consequences 3 years from now if this happens as it could lead to a lot of bitterness within the membership that can result in a strike in 2011. We'll know in a few hours what the union leadership will recommend to it's membership.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Update on large 787 order to be announced

Earlier this week I got information that there will be an announcement of a new 787 operator by around mid-September. Well I've been digging and digging and so far I'm half way to China!

While I've been unable to find out who the new purchaser is I can reveal that the customer who ordered the 23 787 that Boeing booked in January 2008 had ordered two 787 earlier and that those two 787 are for the same unidentified customer. So in a way the customer is not a new customer because they had placed an earlier order for two frames but they are a new operator that has yet to be revealed. So this unknown new operator does have 25 787s on order.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

787 production slow down

News out of Charleston, SC that Vought will temporarily stop producing the rear fuselage barrels for the 787 is the first indication that the bottleneck at Everett may not improve for a few months. An article in Charleston's Post and Courier News quotes Elmer Doty as saying that they do plan on resuming production of the rear fuselages later this year. It looks like Vought's line is as full as it can be especially since they're shipping only one complete rear fuselage section each month. Additionally, Spirit is also slowing its production of 787 forward fuselages.

The production issues and the travelled work all contributed to a bottleneck at Boeing's Everett's plant where scaffolding has to be put up around the air frames that have delivered thus far in order to finish all the travelled work. That as well as other issues has hindered Boeing from pulling out even one shop complete 787.

While the rest of the supply chain seems to be recovering, Boeing is still dealing with the issues left behind from the earlier issues thus the suppliers will have to slow down their production though it does seem that Global Aeronautica does have room and doesn't need to slow down their production of main fuselages.

This production slow down will allow Boeing to catch up with the rest of the supply chain as well as allow the tier one suppliers to ensure that all their respective work packages are appropraitely stuffed when shipped to Everett. However it will probably allow them to deliver only the 25 787 as they've indicated unless there is a significant improvement in the production rate (which would be necessitated by a steep learning curve on the 787 line). Once Boeing's 787 manufacturing technicians are fully up to speed on working on the 787 final assembly line as Boeing has intended (without any travelled work or any other engineering issues) then production can be ramped up to the 10/month or more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

787 Landing Gear Test and new 787 order coming soon?

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Dreamliner 1 started landing gear tests 3 days ago (August 9th). This is a major milestone confirming that the electrical, hydraulics and avionics systems are working together. Initially each gear (left main, right main and nose) were tested individually and then all were tested together. The gear swing tests is top replicate how the landing gear would work as if in actual flight. In order to do this, Boeing jacked the airplane off its landing gear. These tests will continue for the next few days presumably also testing the opening and closing of the landing gear doors as well.

Jon Ostrower is also reporting that Boeing will have a video available of the gear tests available soon. I'll try to post it here (once I've figured out how to do that)!

UPDATE: The video and more pics of the gear swing is here. Boeing even got some amazing footage inside the wheel well as the gear is retracted into it.

New 787 Customer?

In other 787 news, I learned from multiple sources that Boeing will reveal a buyer of 23 787-8s as early as next month. Boeing booked a 23 order from an unidentified customer back in January of this year. Since this order was booked, speculation has been rampant on the web that it must be a current customer who has already purchased the 787 and has a large number of options that they can exercised. Air Canada (who has 23 unexercised 787 options) became the prime suspect. The buyer was not revealed at Farnborough (I guess they didn't want to compete with all the other news coming out of the air show) but I have since learned that this order may be for a new 787 operator. I've also learned from sources that the customer is NOT a North American or European customer. One source told me that it probably is a company that is not subject to regulatory fillings where large material purchases such as 23 787 would have to be disclosed.

So who can it be? Well it can be an Asian, Middle Eastern or South American customer in my opinion. Those are the only regions of the world that have airlines that don't have to reveal this purchase in regulatory filings in addition to being able to afford to buy a large number of widebody aircraft and who has not previously purchased the 787. From these regions we could probably look at airlines like Thai, TAM, Emirates, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysian or even Iraq Airways (with the help of US govt. loans or the $49 bn surplus the Iraqi govt. has). One source speculated to me that TAM is going to take delivery of 4 777-300ERs in September and wouldn't the delivery ceremony make a great opportunity to announce a TAM order for the 787. This is a company that has already bought 12 A350-800, 10 A350-900 and 15 A330-200. The 787-8 would be a great size for TAM for which Airbus' only competitor in the 787-8 size category is the A330-200 (the A350-800 competes with the 787-9 and the A350-900 would compete with the 777-200ER and the proposed 787-10) and the 767-300ERs that TAM recently leased out.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Flightblogger 787 Update, Part 3

Jon's final part reviews the progress on the 5 remaining 787 to be used in the flight test and certification program. Dreamliner 2, it seems, is going to really feel the effects of the travelled work because a lot of attention has been focused on getting Dreamliner 1 prepared.

Read Jon's report here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Flightblogger 787 Update, part 2

Jon Ostrower continues his three part series this time updating us on the supply chain with particular emphasis on Global Aeronautica. GA seems to be the slowest cog in the wheel and it remains to be seen if they can sufficiently up the rates. It took them 11 months to send ouver the center section for Dreamliner 4 and it wasn't 100% complete but close.

They need to get up the learning curve and do it fast.

Read Jon's report here.

787 Brakes

Currently the only issue that stands between the 787 and it flying is the brake monitoring software (the labor issues notwithstanding).

Crane Co, GE, Smith and Boeing haven't really given a status update on this issue as of yet but it certainly doesn't mean that there hasn't been progress or not. Pat Shanahan has said that this issue is helping to eat up some of the schedule margin that the program has which cannot be a good thing. How much margin is left is unclear but in Jon Ostrower's blog, Boeing plans to have all hardware certified for safety of flight and ready to go for first flight by the end of the third week of August at the latest.

Now with the brake monitoring system.

The hardware is fine and the software has been written. Crane has to verify the software works and along with that Crane also has to collect all the documentation (and perhaps even prepare documentation) related to the brake monitoring software for Safety of Flight certification, in other words the system can't be used until the FAA know that it's safe even for flight testing.

According to Pat Shanahan (quoted in Jon's blog), everything except for the brakes will safety of flight certified by the end of the third week of August at the latest. When that will take place is a matter of speculation but my guess is around late August to mid September. It will probably go inside the 767 hanger for some final assembly activities and perhaps installation of some flight test equipment and then outside for ground testing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Flightblogger 787 Update, Part 1

Jon Ostrower just posted a detailed update on the 787. It'll be in three parts with the first part here. The second part will deal with the supply chain and the last part will deal with Dreamliners 2 through 6.

There are two big issues between now and first flight: the brake monitoring issue and the labor contract negotiations with IAM. The later, in my opinion, represents the greatest risk to the 787 schedule. If there is a long strike then production could be significantly set back that delivering even 25 787s in 2009 will be very difficult. Boeing knows this and IAM leadership knows this and will be dealing from a position of strength. It'll be in Boeing's best interest to settle with IAM before Sept. 1st to ensure the 787 program continues uninterrupted.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dreamliner 4 to start assembly soon

UPDATE: Another LCF just left Charleston with the main fuselage for Dreamliner 4. See it here.

The nose section for Dreamliner 4 should be in Everett later today thus setting the stage for the start of final assembly. The Dreamlifter is already in Wichita and has filed a flight plan to go on to Everett. No word yet on when the repaired main fusealge section is due in Everett but my guess is by tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dreamliner 1 Update

My source has told me that Dreamliner 1 is close to start landing gear test inside the final assembly plant in Everett. While the airplane is still on its gear, it looks like Boeing is prepping to jack the airplane off its landing gear soon and that would mean that the gear swing tests should start shortly. There are jacks that are positioned under the wings and much of the scaffolding that surrounded the airplane, particularly around the wings is now gone. The aircraft is still not 100% finished. The engine cowl is only on the left engine and there are still a bunch of access panels that need to be reinstalled.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

787 Production Update

UPDATE II (7/30/2008): The start of final assembly of LN 4 has been pushed back to August 4, 2008. The Dreamlifter did not deliver any fusealge section from Wichita. It had a fuselage transport fixture that was returned to Japan yesterday when it flew from Charleston to Wichita then to Everett and then on to Nagoya.

UPDATE (7/28/2008): I just got word that LN 1 should be pulled out of the final assembly building just prior to the start of final assembly of LN 5 (projected to be around end of August). It'll go to building 40-24 (the 767 line) and then around September to the paint hanger to re-paint some of the sections (with all the work in the past year, some of the original paint was sure to have come off with all the assembly activities).

Lastly, one of the Dreamlifters might delivering the forward fuselage for LN 4 to Everett today as it filed a flight plan.

I just got word that the fourth flying 787 (LN 4) will enter final assembly on July 29th; one month later than expected due to the repair to the damage on the main fuselage. This ties closely to what I reported earlier that the two remaining sections (the forward fuselage and main fuselage) should be delivered around this weekend or early next week.

American Airlines 767 with winglets

Jon Ostrower posted some pics and an article of the first American Airlines 767-300ER fitted out with Aviation Partners Boeing winglets. Read it here here and here. AA and Aviation Partners will flight test the 767 for the next four months for FAA certification. Read the press release here.

What does this mean for a potential AA 787 order. In my opinion it really doesn't change anything. Boeing's backlog for the 787 is out to 2017 or so and AA is in no financial position to order the 787. They want to get rid of the MD-80s in their fleet first and replace them with the 737NGs. In the meantime they can refit the 767s with the winglets to achieve a 5 to 6 percent fuel savings. AA will be in no hurry to replace the 767s just yet but they will probably start to take a look at the 787 in a couple years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Short 787 Update

This morning on Boeing's 2nd quarter earnings conference call, Jim McNerney revealed that LN 1 had its hydraulics powered on this past weekend and Boeing engineers tested some of the movable flight surfaces. He also said that airplane 1 is structurally complete but that there is a few more systems related installations that need to be accomplished at this point. He also reiterated that Boeing is on track for first flight in the 4th quarter and that they are either on or slightly ahead of their schedule.

I found out this evening that position 1 where all the major pieces are assembled together, is being prepped for LN 4 though the main fuselage and the forward fuselage have not been delivered. Those sections should be in soon and my guess is that this will take place around the end of this weekend or Monday.

Lastly, workers are attached the cowling on the left engine of LN 1 today.

Jon Ostrower also posted a short 787 update where he revealed that the elevators are not yet installed on the aircraft. Read his article here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Farnborough 2008, Final Order summary

Farnborough 2008

July 17th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

Synergy Aerospace orders 10 A350-800 from Airbus
Alis Aerolinee Italiane orders 5 A330F with 3 options from Airbus (MoU)

July 16th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

Malaysia Airlines orders 35 737-800 from Boeing (previously booked) along with 20 options
Asiana order 30 A350s with 10 more options from Airbus
An unidentified customer order 20 Sukhoi SuperJet 100 from Sukhoi
AMA Asset Management orders 5 Sukhoi SuperJet 100 from Sukhoi
Malev Orders 4 Q400 from Bombardier
Aviation Capital Group ordered 15 737-700 from Boeing
Ilyushin Finance ordered 31 TU-204SM-100 from Tupolev

July 15th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

Qatar Airways orders 4 A321 from Airbus with 2 A321 options (MoU)
Tunis Air orders 10 A320, 3 A330, and 3 A350 from Airbus
Arik Air orders 7 737-800 (previously booked) and an LoI for 4 747-8I
Avialeasing order 24 Sukhoi SuperJet 100 from Sukhoi with 16 options
Aviation Capital Group order 23 A320 from Airbus
DAE firms 70 A320 and 30 A350 from Airbus* (this is a firming of an order that was announced in Nov. 2007 at the Dubai Air Show)
Aeroflot orders 5 A321 from Airbus
Air China orders 15 777-300ER and 30 737-800s from Boeing (both of these have been previously booked in 2007, signed in Farnborough on 7/17/08)

July 14th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

Bombardier launches C Series of short/medium haul aircraft with an LoI for 30 aircraft from Lufthansa
FlyDubai orders 50 737-800 aircraft (a new order) (with ability to change to 737-900ER), will take 4 737-800 on lease from Babcock
Etihad order 35 787-9 (previously booked) along with 10 777-300ER (also previously booked). They have also taken the following options and rights: 25 options on 787 and 10 options on 777, 10 rights on the 787 and 5 on 777.
Saudi Arabian Airlines order 8 A330-300 from Airbus
Niki orders 5 E190s from Embrarer
NASAIR orders 5 E190s from Embraer
Aeromexico orders 12 E190s from Embrarer
Etihad order 20 A320, 25 A350 and 10 A380 from Airbus. They have taken the following options and rights: 5 A320 options, 10 A350 options, 5 A380 options; 15 A320 rights, 15 A350 rights and 5 A380 rights.

Running Totals:

Saudi Arabian – 8 x A330-300
Etihad – 20 x A320, 25 X A350, 10 x A380
Qatar Air – 4 x A321 (MoU)
TunisAir – 10 x A320, 3 x A330, 3 x A350
Aviation Capital Group – 23 x A320
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise – 70 x A320, 30 x A350* (Was announced at the Dubai Air Show but final contract signed at Farnborough)
Aeroflot – 5 x A321
Asiana – 30 x A350
Synergy Aerospace – 10 x A350-800
Alis Aerolinee Italiane – 5 x A330F (MoU)

Airbus Total – 256 (247 firm orders, 9 MoU)

FlyDubai – 50 x 737-800
Etihad – 35 x 787-9 and 10 x 777-300ER
Arik Air – 7 x 737-800 and 4 x 747-8I (LoI)
Air China – 15 x 777-300ER and 30 x 737-800** (signed at Farnborough on 7/17/08)
Malaysia Airlines – 35 x 737-800
Aviation Capital Group – 15 x 737-700

Boeing Total – 201 (197 firm, 4 LoI)

Lufthansa - 30 x C130 or C110
Malev Hungarian Airlines – 4 X Q400

Bombardier Total – 34 (30 LoI)

NIKI – 5 x E190
NASAIR – 5 x E190
Aeromexico – 12 x E190

Embrarer Total – 22 (all firm)

Avialeasing – 24 x SuperJet 100
Unidentified – 20 x SuperJet 100
AMA Asset Management – 5 x SuperJet 100

Sukhoi Total – 49

Ilyushin Finance - 31 x Tu-204SM-100

Tupolev Total – 31

Number by Type (Includes any LoI or MoU orders)

A320 – 132
A330 - 16
A350 - 98
A380 - 10
737 - 137
747 - 4
777 - 25
787 - 35
C-Series - 30
SuperJet 100 - 49
TU-204 - 31
E-190 - 22
Q400 - 4

Show Totals – 593

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Farnborough 2008, Day 4 Order summary

Farnborough 2008

July 17th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

*Synergy Aerospace orders 10 A350 from Airbus
*Alis Aerolinee Italiane orders 5 A330F with 3 options from Airbus

Running Totals:

Saudi Arabian – 8 x A330-300
Etihad – 20 x A320, 25 X A350, 10 x A380
Qatar Air – 4 x A321
TunisAir – 10 x A320, 3 x A330, 3 x A350
Aviation Capital Group – 23 x A320
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise – 70 x A320, 30 x A350* (Was announced at the Dubai Air Show but final contract signed at Farnborough)
Aeroflot – 5 x A321
Asiana – 30 x A350
Synergy Aerospace – 10 x A350
Alis Aerolinee Italiane – 5 x A330F

Airbus Total – 256

FlyDubai – 50 x 737-800
Etihad – 35 x 787-9 and 10 x 777-300ER
Arik Air – 7 x 737-800 and 4 x 747-8I (LoI)
Air China – 15 x 777 and 30 x 737** (signed at Farnborough on 7/17/08)
Malaysia Airlines – 35 x 737-800
Aviation Capital Group – 15 x 737-700

Boeing Total – 201

Lufthansa - 30 x C130 or C110
Malev Hungarian Airlines – 4 X Q400

Bombardier Total – 34

NIKI – 5 x E190
NASAIR – 5 x E190
Aeromexico – 12 x E190

Embrarer Total – 22

Avialeasing – 24 x SuperJet 100
Unidentified – 20 x SuperJet 100
AMA Asset Management – 5 x SuperJet 100

Sukhoi Total – 49

Ilyushin Finance - 31 x Tu-204SM-100

Tupolev Total – 31

Show Totals – 593

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

FT: Airbus Hampered By Cultural Differences

The Financial Times put out an interesting and disturbing article on tensions at Airbus’ A380 final assembly line. Read it here.

While it has always been normal to have labor tensions at any global manufacturing firm, it is particularly disturbing to have strife amongst groups of workers who need to work together. Even if you have strife as it seems to be the case in Toulouse, the underlying tensions are nationalistic in nature bought on by the stress of the getting the A380 out the door quickly. In other words the disputes have become the French vs. the Germans.

Airbus was created with the hopes of pooling the aerospace talent across the European continent in order to be more competitive with the US manufacturers and they have succeeded in that. Times were good and the concept of the different European nationalities working together seemed to have been validated as workers of different nationalities got along . But that was when times were good but now with the pressures of delivering the A380s weighing on them as well as a host of other negative developments (A400M, the insider trading investigation, and Power8) Airbus workers have now set up each other and the battle lines have been drawn along nationalists lines.

While it’s certainly not going to bring down Airbus it can seriously hurt the A380 program at a critical point of the recovery plan and could lead to further delays.

Farnborough 2008, Day 3 Order summary

Farnborough 2008

July 16th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

*Malaysia Airlines orders 35 737-800 from Boeing (previously booked) along with 20 options
*Asiana order 30 A350s with 10 more options from Airbus
*An unidentified customer order 20 Sukhoi SuperJet 100 from Sukhoi
*AMA Asset Management orders 5 Sukhoi SuperJet 100 from Sukhoi
*Malev Orders 4 Q400 from Bombardier
*Aviation Capital Group ordered 15 737-700 from Boeing

Running Totals:

Saudi Arabian – 8 x A330-300
Etihad – 20 x A320, 25 X A350, 10 x A380
Qatar Air – 4 x A321
TunisAir – 10 x A320, 3 x A330, 3 x A350
Aviation Capital Group – 23 x A320
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise – 70 x A320, 30 x A350*
Aeroflot – 5 x A321
Asiana – 30 x A350

Airbus Total – 241

FlyDubai – 50 x 737-800
Etihad – 35 x 787-9 and 10 x 777-300ER
Arik Air – 7 x 737-800 and 4 x 747-8I (LoI)
Air China – 15 x 777 and 30 x 737
Malaysia Airlines – 35 x 737-800
Aviation Capital Group – 15 x 737-700

Boeing Total – 201

Lufthansa - 30 x C130 or C110
Malev Hungarian Airlines – 4 X Q400

Bombardier Total – 34

NIKI – 5 x E190
NASAIR – 5 x E190
Aeromexico – 12 x E190

Embrarer Total – 22

Avialeasing – 24 x SuperJet 100
Unidentified – 20 x SuperJet 100
AMA Asset Management – 5 x SuperJet 100

Sukhoi Total – 49

Show Totals – 547

Of note, Aviation Capital also expressed interest in buying 10 to 15 more 787s

Boeing considering a 2nd 787 assembly line?

I got an email this morning from a reliable source stating that the eventual plan for 787 production is to build on 10/month on two separate lines. The first line is obviously already up and running inside building 40-26. The second line would go in building 40-24 which is where the current 767 production line is.

767 production would move to a small bay on the north side of Boeing factory at Everett. There is as of now, no timetable for all this to happen but it does raise quite a few questions as well as possibilities.

Questions: What happens if Boeing wins the tanker re-bid with the 767? The answer is not clear but the tanker would account for one more 767/month. It is probably possible that the new 767 final assembly line location should be able to handle that.
Couldn't the existing 787 line handle the increase of output to 10/month? It probably can but they probably want to set up two lines for a couple reasons: 1) to increase production significantly and also to provide back up in case there are issues with the other production line.

Possibilities: Boeing can really up the production rates of the 787 in all it's variants which at one point will probably include the 787-10 and a 787F in addition to the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-3. Now with all that will be one huge questions: What can be the optimum supplier throughput to the final assembly line in Everett? And that's a question not only for the primary Boeing suppliers but the secondary and tertiary suppliers as well. Throughput, or the rate that the supplier can supply to the programs final assembly line, is going to be key in getting production going as well as catching up to the 12 to 30 month delays facing the 787 customers.

Lastly, Scott Hamilton and Leeham & Co. conducted a great interview with Pat Shanahan. You can read it here.


On the second final assembly line my source said that this action (moving the 767 line and replacing it with the 787 line) is more than likely to happen regardless of what happens to the KC-X re-bid decision. The 787 program needs the space. Already there has been some evidence of this as the fatigue test airframe was moved from 40-26 to 40-24 to finish up assembly prior to be taken out to the fatigue test site.


Check out the Flightblogger post.

Update 3

Qatar Airways CEO weighs in on Boeing opening a 2nd line for the 787. He basically says it's a no-brainer. Duh! Read the article here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Farnborough 2008, Day 2 Order summary

July 15th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

*Qatar Airways orders 4 A321 from Airbus with 2 A321 options
*Tunis Air orders 10 A320, 3 A330, and 3 A350 from Airbus
*Arik Air orders 7 737-800 (previously booked) and an LoI for 4 747-8I
*Avialeasing order 24 Sukhoi SuperJet from Sukhoi with 16 options
*Aviation Capital Group orders 23 A320 from Airbus
*DAE orders 70 A320 and 30 A350 from Airbus* (
this is a firming of an order that was announced in Nov. 2007 at the Dubai Air Show)
*Aeroflot orders 5 A321 from Airbus
*Air China orders 15 777 and 30 737s from Boeing (both of these may have been previously booked)

Running Totals:

Saudi Arabian – 8 x A330-300
Etihad – 20 x A320, 25 X A350, 10 x A380
Qatar Air – 4 x A321
TunisAir – 10 x A320, 3 x A330, 3 x A350
Aviation Capital Group – 23 x A320
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise – 70 x A320, 30 x A350*
Aeroflot – 5 x A321

Airbus Total – 211

FlyDubai – 50 x 737-800
Etihad – 35 x 787-9 and 10 x 777-300ER
Arik Air – 7 x 737-800 and 4 x 747-8I (LoI)
Air China – 15 x 777 and 30 x 737

Boeing Total – 151

Lufthansa - 30 x C130 or C110

Bombardier Total – 30

NIKI – 5 x E190
NASAIR – 5 x E190
Aeromexico – 12 x E190

Embrarer Total – 22

Avialeasing – 24 x SuperJet

Sukhoi Total – 24

Show Totals – 438

By the way...Look for Malyasia Air to finalize an order for 35 737-800s tomorrow along with 20 options.

Boeing 787 Update at Farnborough

Pat Shanahan gave a 787 update this morning in the UK though short on details (as opposed to the one in April) it still suggests that they are on track for first flight late this year. Power on was successfully completed with a few minor glitches that were quickly resolved. Boeing is finalizing the shipping date of the two remaining sections for LN 4 later this week. My guess is that they will be in Everett by the end of next week but we’ll see.

Boeing is planning to activate LN 1’s hydraulic system next week, otherwise known as “oil” on (as opposed to power on). This will allow Boeing to raise and lower the landing gear in the hanger before first flight (you don’t want to test something like that on first flight in case something goes wrong). It will also allow Boeing to test all the movable flight surfaces (flaps, slats, elevator, rudder and speed brakes). As reported on this web site earlier, Boeing was planning to move the fatigue air frame from 40-24 to the fatigue test area and move LN 1 from 40-26 to 40-24. The later move is probably in doubt due to hydraulic on next week and the need to test some of the mechanical systems. I think the move of LN 1 probably won’t occur until 1st to 2nd week of August

Regarding LN 4 – the damage to the main fuselage caused a disruption in the schedule and the certification process maybe impacted though Boeing says they do have some schedule margin to absorb the disruption in the schedule.

Speaking of margin, Shanahan said that small glitches in the production schedule is eating up some of the margin. I’m presuming that he’s talking about LN 4 and that may be a cause for concern further down with certification testing. Everett is now the bottleneck for continuing production. The suppliers are no longer the issue and they have greatly improved on reducing traveled work. Look for no traveled work starting with LN 8, by then Global Aeronautica should be shipping 100% complete sections, Spirit is already shipping 100% complete sections with LN 4 and Vought will ship 100% complete rear fuselage sections starting with LN 5.

One issue with regards to the road to first flight is the traceability of the brake control software to meeting certification requirement which is being characterized as a minor issue and that a fix is being implemented. Crane Co. is responsible for that part of the Dreamliner.

Right now Boeing is saying that APU and engine testing is due to start next month, followed by gauntlet testing (a series of tests that trick the airplane’s computer into thinking that it’s in flight and see how the systems react to normal flight procedures as well as in flight anomalies). This will be followed by taxi and brake tests and then first flight. Shanahan is saying first flight should take place around November but I personally think it’ll be October if there are no major issues.

So far Boeing has completed 98% of safety of hardware testing, 96% of hardware is qualified for first flight (will be 100% by 2nd week of August) and 95% of hardware is ready for first flight. Despite this progress there is still some part shortages with LN 1 though these are minor. There is still some work to do in the mid fuselage and the wing of LN 1 and they need some tubing to complete the fuel system on the airplane as well. Also they need to complete airplane 2 before airplane 1 can fly as airplane 2 will be used for ground verification tests. Finishing up work in the mid fuselage of LN 2 also has eaten into some of the margin.

In terms of future variants, Boeing is planning to finish trade studies for the 787-9 by the end of the year and have a firm configuration for the 787-9 by the 2nd quarter of 2009 and entry into service by early 2012. They also said that the 787-3 will benefit from the experience gained on the 787-8 and 787-9 thus indicating that they are still going to go ahead with that variant though the time table is still up in the air.

On the static test aircraft frame, testing is due to start soon with three main tests to be done soon: pressurization testing, leading/trailing edge testing, and vibration testing.

Until the next update…have fun and keep your head in the clouds!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Farnborough 2008, Day 1 Order summary

Farnborough 2008

July 14th, Commercial Aircraft Order highlights

*Bombardier launches C Series of short/medium haul aircraft with an LoI for 30 aircraft from Lufthansa
*FlyDubai orders 50 737-800 aircraft (a new order) (with ability to change to 737-900ER), will take 4 737-800 on lease from Babcock
*Etihad order 35 787-9 (previously booked) along with 10 777-300ER (also previously booked). They have also taken the following options and rights: 25 options on 787 and 10 options on 777, 10 rights on the 787 and 5 on 777.
*Saudi Arabian Airlines order 8 A330-300 from Airbus
*Niki orders 5 E190s from Embrarer
*NASAIR orders 5 E190s from Embraer
*Aeromexico orders 12 E190s from Embrarer
*Etihad order 20 A320, 25 A350 and 10 A380 from Airbus. They have taken the following options and rights: 5 A320 options, 10 A350 options, 5 A380 options; 15 A320 rights, 15 A350 rights and 5 A380 rights.

Running Totals:

Saudi Arabian – 8 x A330-300
Etihad – 20 x A320, 25 X A350, 10 x A380

Airbus Total – 63

FlyDubai – 50 x 737-800
Etihad – 35 x 787-9 and 10 x 777-300ER

Boeing Total – 95

Lufthansa - 30 x C130 or C110

Bombardier Total – 30

NIKI – 5 x E190
NASAIR – 5 x E190
Aeromexico – 12 x E190

Embrarer Total – 22

Show Totals - 210

Etihad Airways orders 35 787-9s and 10 777-300ER

Photo Courtesy of Boeing

Confirming market rumors, Etihad and Boeing confirmed that the carrier was behind the 35 strong 787-9 order booked in early March. Additionally, Etihad ordered 10 more 777-300ERs, they currently fly 5 of that type.

Etihad also ordered 25 787 options and 10 777 options as well as 10 787 purchase rights and 5 777 purchase rights. Deliveries of the 787 are to start in 2015.
If all the 787 options and rights are exercised that would give Etihad a fleet of 787 that is 70 strong.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

777F starts taxi tests in advance of first flight

The first 777F began taxi tests today in advance of its anticipated first flight tomorrow at 10 AM Pacific Time. Matt Cawby got a couple of great pictures on the airplane of Runway 16R in Everett. See the here and here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farnbourough order rumor and other musings

On the eve of Farnborough I've been hearing rumblings of some 787 orders. These are unconfirmed rumors. Some are obvious but others are not. I heard that Ethiad, Asiana (amongst the obvious airlines), and Turkish Airlines (the unexpected order) maybe ordering the 787. While Boeing has over 60 unidentified orders including 2 large blocks of 23 and 35, it seems that a couple of these airlines may not be the ones who placed those orders. It seems for certain that the 787 will break 900 firm orders by the end of the show and I'm willing to say that a further order from ILFC, one of Boeing's most important and influential customers, will be given that honor. I will hope to confirm these potential orders soon.

While the 787 final assembly production has been stopped momentarily because of the issues with LN 4, the final assembly of the first three flight worthy aircraft continue. The engines for LN 1 will have been re-installed by the end of this weekend...a major step forward as Boeing was not expecting to re-install them until they're several weeks ahead of that schedule. Jon Ostrower reported it here.

Look here at Matt Cawby's site for more pics. Here's a picture of the fatigue test frame in 40-24. This is another engine picture. And final picture also here. It is my understanding that LN 1 should be moving in about a week to 10 days from now but I'm not sure if this is on hold because of the issues with LN 4. Speaking of which we hope to have more clarity on that airplane by Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Great videos on NASA's Constellation Program

Here's a switch from the usual 787 stuff.

NASA has embarked on returning Americn's to the moon by 2020. Here are a couple of great videos produced by NASA detailing what they're doing.

Video 1

Video 2

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Flightglobal: Alenia to acquire 2nd autoclave for 787 production

In this article from Flightglobal, Alenia is planning to acquire a 2nd autoclave for 787 production. Alenia currently has one autoclave and the 2nd one would be used to ensure that there is no disruption in producing the 787 barrels that Alenia supplies. It'll be about two years before it is installed.

Now risk mitigation is very important but one has to wonder if this is also part of Boeing's plan to up 787 production rates to beyond 10/month. Boeing would need to see a healthy uptick in production to get delivery schedules back on track with some airlines warning of up to a 30 month delay in getting their first 787. It would also allow Boeing to meet increase in demand for the airplane which is at just under 900 firm orders. It is already known that some of the Japanese partners have talked about or are making plans to add additional manufacturing capacity to support a higher output.

The worry is also getting secondary and tertiary suppliers to up their production rates to meet the higher output if and when that is decided on, but for now it seems that people are starting to plan for it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

LCFs on the move, possible delivery flights


The Dreamlifter, reg. number N780BA took off today for Wichita
but soon after takeoff developed a problem with its flap and had to dump fuel
and return to Paine Field. They landed safely.
The 747 Large Cargo Freighters, or LCFs have been on the move. Yesterday one left for a flight to Nagoya. It is unclear if it going to be bringing in any parts but if it is it will bring parts for delivery to Global Aeronautica as Everett is still waiting for parts for Dreamliner 4. It could be returning transportation fixtures back to Nagoya and then fly back with parts for other 787s to be assembled at Global Aeronautica.

Today though a flight plan was filed for an LCF to to fly from Everett to McConnell AFB in Wichita, KS. This is where Spirit Aerosystems manufactures the forward fuselage for the 787. It can be flying there ostensibly to pick up the nose section.

The 3rd LCF is already in Charleston, probably waiting for Boeing's ok to load and deliver the main fuselage for Dreamliner 4 which had been the source of the hold up.

Speaking of Global Aeronautica, they had a 24 hour standdown to review FOD prodcedures. The FAA found violations but did not order the standdown. That order came from management. Given the recent news, this is probably a good idea. See the article from the Seattle Times here.

Finally, Matt Cawby has pictures of the fatigue test site on his web site. This is where the 787 fatigue test airframe will go to start 3 years worth of fatigue testing. Simply put they will simulate a lifetimes worth of flights over the period of three years and see how the airframe responds. Check out his pictures here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dreamliner 4 main fuselage delayed by only a few days.

Ok just out on Bloomberg. Alenia said that a temporary worker put the wrong fasteners in 11 holes in the midbody fuselage which damaged a 30 cm area. The section was repaired with a carbon fiber patch which is the ususal procedure. The section's delivery will be delayed by only a few days as a consequence. The temporary worker was fired.


Jon Ostrower got a response from Alenia. Read it here.

Also Susanna Ray, a reporter for Bloomberg News has an excellent article detailing Boeing stock price moves over the last few days and the issue with Dreamliner 4. Read it here.

787 Horizontal Stabilizer Successfully Completes Destructive Testing

The word from Alenia. The horizontal stabilizer has passed destructive testing as part of the 787 certification. It'll now move on to fatigue testing of this part.

Here's Alenia's press release.

Farnborough '08

That time of year is coming up...July in the the UK...Wimbeldon and the Royal Henly Regatta (Go Columbia Lions!).

But for aviation industry execs and enthusiasts it also means the Farnborough International Airshow. As far as the commercial aviation sector is concerned the topics will revolve aroung one word: OIL.

Yep the price of black gold has airlines teetering on the edge of bankruptcy or in some cases total collapse. Two years ago no one was even talking about oil being near $150/bblbut going into this years airshow airline execs and the aerospace industry still have to find a way to survive in a world where oil can reach to $200 or even $250 per barrel.

As far as airline fleets are concerned, the industry has two ways of responding:

  1. Permanently park fuel inefficient fleets and reduce capacity system wide

  2. Replace older aircraft with newer fuel efficient aircraft

There is a fine edge between both options with many airlines retiring old airplanes but also deferring current orders and outright canceling them as evidenced by Air Deccan, Kingfisher, jetBlue and Skybus' fleet actions (well the later had to liquidate so it doesn't make sense to keep those A320 orders alive).

Some are moving forward with re-fleeting plans which includes buying up 787, 777, 747-8, A350, A330 and A380s as well as filling up on the narrowbodies.

American Airlines while now charging $15 for th first checked bag is also talking about accerating 737 deliveries in order to repalce the MD-80s that comprises the largest portion of its fleet. This is an example of what awaits aircraft manufacturers. The "healthy" airlines will move up purchases of new airplanes to get the older ones out of services while hte "sicker" airlines cannot simply afford to replace any airplanes and would rather cut services, capacity and routes while charging passengers higher fares and fees.

While cancellations and deferrals won't dominate the marketing efforts at Farnborough by Boeing and Airbus, they will undoubtedly will tout the new orders that will be announced there.

So who is in the market and who will order. Here's my prediction (or guesses):

ILFC - they've stated that they plan on ordering up to 150 airplanes from both manufacturers. I would see them buying up a lot of A320 especially in the light of several cancellations and deferrals for the type which has probably opened up early delivery slots. The 737 hasn't experienced a high cancellation rate may be a matter of time for that to happen. I also think that ILFC will be in big for more 787s and will try and take up more 777s

Ethiad - they're talking to both manufacterers for 50 - 100 airplens in both narrowbodies and widebodies. My predicition is that Airbus will take the narrowbody part of the order while Boeing will win the widebody with a mix of 787, 777 and 747-8I. There is an unidentified order for 35 787-9 and I think Ethiad might be the one who placed this order.

Emirates - these guys are posting profits and doesn't seem to be weighed down by the price of fuel. Must also help being funded by the rulers of Dubai who are just raking in the oil profits. I can see them buying more 777 and perhaps converting some of the 747-8F to 747-8Is.

British Air and QANTAS - rumors have been floating around that both British Airways and QANTAS will buy the 777-300ER to help solve a capacity shortfall due to the 787 delays. This maybe announced at Farnborough

Boeing may reveal the purchasers of several unidentifed orders including:

23 787-8 (probably Air Canada)

35 787-9s (Ethiad is my guess)

10 777-300ER (Emirates)

15 777-300ERs (not sure on this one)

737s....Boeing has a boat load of unidentified 737 buyers. Here is a list of them for 2007 and 2008:

Model Order Date Total
737-800 30-Mar-07 4
737-800 11-Apr-07 2
737-800 26-Apr-07 15
737-800 29-Aug-07 16
737-800 28-Sep-07 34
737-800 4-Oct-07 5
737-800 31-Oct-07 1
737-800 15-Nov-07 30
737-700 4-Dec-07 6
737-800 4-Dec-07 9
737-800 27-Dec-07 15
737-800 11-Feb-08 1
737-700 20-Feb-08 15
737-800 20-Feb-08 15
737-800 11-Mar-08 40
737-800 12-Mar-08 1
737-800 18-Mar-08 6
737-800 11-Apr-08 2
737-800 5-May-08 20
737-800 27-May-08 30
Various 737s June, 08 37


I'll rcap the days action from Farnborough on this blog site.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Dreamliner 4 delay

Scott Hamilton is apparently hearing something of a delay on Dreamliner 4 (LN 4) final assembly. Though it is still scetchy, it may be related to section 44 of the main fuselage that is built by Alenia. Here's Scott's blog entry.


Jon Ostrower is reporting what appears to be structural damage to section 44 and thus has indefinetely delayed final assembly of Dreamliner 4. It seems that a Alenia employee was not following proper procedures when he installed incorrect fastneners improperly. There is no indications that this was a deliberate attempt to damage the aircraft but rather an issue related to perhaps proper training and procedures when assembling these structures.

Boeing has no date as to when LN 4 will be delivered to Everett. Read Jon's article here.

The section has been repaired this weekend and I suspect that the center fuselage for Dreamliner 4 is being kept in Charleston as Boeing and Alenia need to be sure that the structural integrity of the aircraft is not compromised by the mishap. If there are structural issues then there could be a delay in the finishing up the test flight program due to delay in getting Dreamliner 4 in the air. In any case the issue isn't design related but more related to training of the Global Aeronautica employees in Charleston, many of whom are brand new to building aircraft, let alone composite aircraft.

Global Aeronautica will have to review it's training procedures and oversite of new employees building these structures.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dreamliner 4 delayed?

Parts for Dreamliner 4, the fourth test flight 787, have yet to be delivered to the final assembly line in Everett, Washington. Both the forward fuselage (section 41) the main fuselage (section 11/45, 43, 44,46) are still in their respective partner sites in Wichita and Charleston.

There is one LCF in Everett right now one in Charleston and the third one is flying (as of 10:30 PM EDT) to Grottaglie, Italy.

Boeing has said that LN 4 would start final assembly by June 30th. Even though there is still 2 days to do that, it is highly unlikely that this will be met due to the lack of movement of these two critical sections.

The reason for this apparent delay is unknown. It could be issues with the main fuselage section in Charleston. It is doubtful that there are issues with section 41 as that is complete though it is possible that perhaps there are issues after completing assembly of this section.

Another reason might be due to work still on going on LN 3. After LN 2 moved to position 3 about a week ago, LN 3 still stayed in position 1. There might be issues with that airplane. I'm trying to get more information.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alafco Sells 787-9 To Saudi Arabian Airlines

Now we know where Saudi Arabian Airliens is getting their 787-9s from. In addition to buying 8 of them outright they're leasing four more from ALAFCO. Click here to read the story.

Monday, June 23, 2008

787 power on interactive video

Boeing released a series of interactive videos and information related to power on of the 787. See it here.

Also see it below:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Boeing moves 787 fatigue

ZY998 being moved to building 40-24.
Image Courtesy of Boeing
Yesterday Boeing moved the fatigues aircraft from building 40-26 to building 40-24 where it will stay for about a month finishing up some assembly tasks. Today LN 2 will move to position 3 while LN 3 will remain in position 1 until probably late this week.
As Jon Ostrower reported earlier, the third Dreamlifter, newly modified in Taiwan, will fly to the US in the next few days and immediately will be pressed into service to deliver the center fuselage for LN 4 (the fourth flying 787) late this week. The forward fuselage is also due to be flown into Everett soon and once those two sections have arrived then final assembly will immediately begin. LN 3 will probably move to position 2 late this week to make room for LN 4. The fatigues airframe is expected to move from 40-24 to the fatigue test area in about a month and at the same time LN 1 will move from 40-26 to 40-24 to finish up assembly tasks and prepare it for the move to the flight line. In doing so on or around July 21st, Boeing will make room for LN 5, the 5th test flight aircraft and the first to be fitted with the GEnx engines.
Here's is Boeing's press release here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flightblogger: 787 next steps

Jon Ostrower just posted an update for the 787 program now that powe ron has been completed. Click here to read his report he has a couple of great pictures. Here is a brief synopsis:

ZY998 to move to 40-24 this evening between 7 pm and 8:30 pm local time.

Power on went extremely well, in fact they expected problems that never materialized.

Gauntlet testing is up next - fooling major systems into thinking that the plane is flying and see how they react. This is a major test to see if the 787 is ready for flight.

With 998 moved out of the way LN 2 and LN 3 will each be moved down the line tomorrow. LN 2 to position 3 and LN 3 to position 2. This will allow the start of final assembly on LN 4.

Dreamlifter 3 will arrive in the US next week and will be tasked with delivering the center fuselage for LN 4. This will be done next week. The forward fuselage section for LN 4 will also be delivered next week.

Integration time for the center fuselage will be one third of what it is now by late summer (with the delivery of LN 6 to Everett). It is hoped that by LN 8 that there will be no more traveled work with the center fuselage. Integration of systems and wiring in the center fuselage will now start to drop after the center section for LN 4 is delivered.

First 787 Completes Power On

Image Courtesy of Boeing
Boeing continues to demonstrate that it's gotten the 787 program back on track. Today Boeing issued a press release announcing that the first 787 (ZA001) has completed the full power on process and now all of the 787s systems are powered on.

Now comes the additional tasks of making sure that all the systems are talking to one another as well as finishing the assembly tasks including loading up the final versions of the software and reattaching the engines.

Boeing will not roll out the 787 to the flight line until September 6th and first flight will not occur until very, very late in October.

Boeing accomplished the very important task 10 days early. They had previously said that power on will occur by June 30th and here they were able to accomplish it by June 20th. One has to wonder if the rest of Boeing schedule is going to be conservative? They will probably need any extra margin built in to the schedule to deal with any major issues. If all they encounter are minor ones then it is possible that the 787 schedule can be moved forward.

On a related note, a LCF flew into Everett last night from Wichita, presumably it was carrying section 41 (forward fuselage) for ZA004 though I haven't been able to confirm that. Boeing has said that they plan to start construction on ZA004 by June 30th and it was revealed on this blog that final assembly is due to start around June 21st though Boeing still doesn't have the center fuselage section for this plane yet from Global Aeronautica.

Also ZY998, the static test frame was scheduled to be moved yesterday but there was no sign of movement out of 40-26. It is possible that this move will occur this weekend thus pushing out the start of final assembly on ZA004 by a few days.

Edit: Jon Ostrower just told me that the LCF didn't bring in the forward fuselage for LN 4 and that section is not due to arrive until next week. Instead it had delivered the HTP (horizontal tail plane) for LN 5

Thursday, June 19, 2008

KC-787, pros and cons

Yesterday soon after I fell off my chair when the GAO recommendation came out and the dust had somewhat settled, I got to thinking what can Boeing's possible actions (or reactions) to what looks to be the KC-X rebid. Trolling the forums many people including myself said that it could be the 777 and/or the 767.

Then I really got to thinking, why not the KC-787, a tanker based on the 787? Jon Ostrower told me that a KC-787 would absolutely destroy the KC-30 in a tanker competition (depending on the selection criteria that the Air Force puts out).

So here are the pros and cons of Boeing doing the a 787 tanker.


Well in a nutshell, take all the advantages in weight and fuel efficiency that the 787 has over the A330 and translate that over to the tanker version. The 787 would be larger but lighter than the A330. Boeing can utilized the advantage of better fuel burn and the lighter structure of the 787. The 787 would have a more advanced and modern cockpit compared to the A330. The 787 would beat the A330 on range, usable cargo carried (fuel and/or cargo), and weight. The KC-787 would certainly demolish the KC-30 on life cycle costs and this metric can certainly make the Air Force stand up and seriously look at the 787 as a tanker.

Secondly, because Boeing would probably have to strengthen the 787 in order to carry the weight of fuel and other cargo required by the Air Force as well as a cargo door, Boeing would essentially have designed the 787F. Wow two birds with one stone though Airbus certainly would have a lot to say about DoD Tanker money going to design a commercial cargo aircraft.

Lastly, the Air Force would not have to modify airfields due to the weight of the 787 vs the A330 which is heavier. This was a bone of contention with Boeing as the Air Force underestimated the cost of modifications in operating the KC-30 from existing airfields.


Production - Boeing is already suffering from the production problems with the 787 and then the ramp up of production is looking to be long and painful. They would have no capacity at all to build tankers based on the 787. In order to do so would require 1) additional investment by Boeing and its suppliers to support increased production of the 787 (more autoclaves, larger facilities, more LCFs), 2) a second assembly line that is ITAR compliant. Now the Air Force would probably take anywhere from 12 to 24 tankers a year meaning a rate of 1 to 2 airplanes, these airplanes can be constructed on the existing assembly line but that would mean up to 2 less commercial 787s being delivered to customers who would none too pleased about their delivery slots going to the Air Force. A second line would be required and later can be used to support commercial production if needed.

Development - Boeing will need significant investment in terms of time, money, resources and personnel to turn the 787 from a commercial passenger aircraft into a military air refueler. Right now they're still grappling with the fall out from the production and supply issues that hurt them over the past year. They will still need a lot of these same resources in order to finish the 787-8 development as well as to develop the -3, -9 and -10 variants for commercial customers. Now since this product would come from Boeing IDS, it is possible to transfer engineering resources from the KC-767 and to work on the KC-787 along with a few of the 787 program engineers. Boeing had earlier transfered some engineers and other resources at IDS to the 787 to help alleviate the issues due to the travelled work and production problems. They could do this again to help develop the 787 into a tanker platform.

Boeing might need to develop a new refueling boom (though I wonder if they could adopt the KC-767 boom for the KC-787) as well as floor strengthening and perhaps landing gear strengthening.

Lastly, timing - the Air Force needs these tankers 4 years ago. There would be little to no timing to get a KC-787 design, tooling, and production going. My guess is that it would take up to two years to get the design going and then another 2-4 years for development, testing and operational evaluation. This on top of doing the rebid (which I think would take another 2 years). So assuming the rebid takes place and that Boeing wins the rebid with the KC-787, it would be another 6 to 8 years before a KC-787 is in the hands of USAF pilots. The KC-30 won't certainly take as long.

These are some broad brush details...those can be filled in by people who would certainly know better and more information but the KC-787 might be an option that Boeing can look at if they can effectively reduced the risks, timing and costs of doing a KC-787.