Saturday, January 31, 2009

Improving 787 build time

As to be expected, the assembly times for each successive 787 is getting better. How do we know this? I take a look at the date that each Dreamliner (1-5) started it's final assembly and figured out the number of days it took to reach it's projected first flight based on Boeing estimates of Dreamliner 2-6 entering the test flight program in four months of the first flight. I also projected the number of days it would take Dreamliner 6 to go from start of final assembly to it's first flight. Now of course the airplanes would be shop complete well before first flight but this is to merely illustrate the improved final assembly time between LN 1 and LN 6.

Here's how it stacked up:

Dreamliner 1: Start Final Assembly on May 21, 2007, projected first flight date is April 24th, 2009. This is 704 days.

Dreamliner 2: Start Final Assembly on Feb. 14, 2008, projected first flight date is May 19th, 2009 (Three and a half weeks after Dreamliner 1 flies). This is 460 days.

Dreamliner 3: Start Final Assembly on May 1, 2008, projected first flight date is June 13, 2009 (Three and a half weeks after Dreamliner 2 flies). This is 408 days.

Dreamliner 4: Start Final Assembly on August 6, 2009, projected first flight date is July 8, 2009 (Three and half weeks after Dreamliner 3 flies). This is 336 days.

Dreamliner 5: Start Final Assembly on January 29, 2009, projected first flight date is August 2, 2009 (Three and a half weeks after Dreamliner 4 flies). This is 185 days.

Dreamliner 6: Projected start of Final Assembly on March 5th, 2009, projected first flight date is August 27, 2009 (Three and a half weeks after Dreamliner 5 flies). This is 175 days.

Dreamliner 2 should be ready to move out of building 40-26 by the end of February thus clearing way for Dreamliner 6 to enter final assembly in early March.

There is a huge improvement between Dreamliner 4 and Dreamliner 5 of about 151 days which is attributable to the improvement is the partners efforts to reduce the traveled work especially during the strike.

Friday, January 30, 2009

787 production resumes

Picture Courtesy of Boeing

Dreamliner 5 shown loaded in position 1

Boeing released a statement saying that 787 production has resumed. They also said that fastener rework is done on Dreamliner 1, almost complete on Dreamliner 2 and is still on going on Dreamliners 3 and 4. Boeing released an image, taken yesterday (Jan. 29), above showing the forward fuselage and the main fuselage section along with the wings in the position 1 tooling. The rear section has to be attached but I suspect that it'll be done by the end of this weekend.

Here's the text of the Boeing Press Release:

Production Resumes on Boeing 787 Dreamliners With Fifth Flight-Test Airplane

EVERETT, Wash., Jan. 30, 2009 -- Production of Boeing [NYSE: BA] 787 Dreamliners resumed yesterday with the join of the fifth airplane designated for flight test.

This airplane, designated ZA005, is the first to be powered with General Electric GEnx engines. The major assemblies were loaded in final body join over the past several days. The fuselage and wing joins occur simultaneously.

"This airplane signifies our return to a steady production rhythm," said Jack Jones, vice president of 787 Final Assembly and Change Incorporation.

"Sections are arriving in Everett at the completion levels committed by our partners and close to what is expected for mature production," Jones said. "The substantial progress made by our partners streamlines the assembly process, which is essential as we ramp up production."

Five of the six airplanes designated for flight test are now in varying stages of production. Power was restored earlier this week to the first flight-test airplane, ZA001, and production testing has resumed as the airplane prepares for first flight in the second quarter. Rolls-Royce engines are hung on ZA002, in the fourth and final production position in the factory. The third and fourth flight-test airplanes, ZA003 and ZA004, are in the third and second production positions, respectively.

Fastener rework is done on ZA001, nearly complete on ZA002 and progressing well on the third and fourth airplanes, Jones said. "We have applied the resources necessary to complete all the outstanding work on these airplanes and keep the production line moving forward."

Assemblies for the final flight-test airplane, ZA006, are in production at partner sites worldwide. In all, assemblies for 30 Dreamliners are in production at this time.

The 787 Dreamliner has orders for 895 airplanes from 58 airlines.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dreamliner 1 powered on again.

Dreamliner 1 has been powered on again to retest systems that have been powered down since tbefore the strike.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boeing posts 787 order cancellation

UPDATE: James Wallace at the Seattle PI reported that the customer who cancelled the 787 order was S7 of Russia. It was due to the economic climate and not the delays on the program.

Also Jon Ostrower reported that first flight of LN 2 can come as early as May which is 3 months earlier than I reported a month ago. Jon also reported that all 6 test airplanes can be flying within 4 months of first flight. Presumably if first flight occurs in late April then all 6 could be flying by the end of August. I still have my doubts about certification by the end of January 2010 but we'll see. Read Jon's report here.

Boeing, in it's financial statements said that they have booked a cancellation of 15 787s. The customer is unknown but could be Virgin Atlantic or an unknown customer. We'll probably know in about two weeks when Boeing releases it's monthly order and delivery totals.

"The 787 program has won 895 net orders from 58 customers to date, which
includes the recent removal from the books of one customer’s order for airplanes that were scheduled for delivery late in the next decade."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ares 1-Y CGM Launch Video

Ok a little off topic but here's a cool video of the planned launch of NASA's ARES 1-Y test flight. Here it will use an acutal 5 segment SRB derived from the shuttle solid rocket motor as well as an actual 2nd stage but a dummy second stage engine and a dummy Orion capsule. The Launch Abort System tower (LAS tower) is real and NASA wants to test the high altitude capability of the LAS Tower to pull the Orion off the "stick" in case of an emergency. The test launch is planned for September 2013 and will not carry any astronauts.

Flightblogger: Dreamliner 1 through 6 Update

LN 1 in building 40-24 taken by Saj Ahmad 4 days ago.

Used with permission from

Jon Ostrower has posted a detailed update on 787 line numbers 1 through 6. Read it here.

Here's a summary:

LN 1 (Dreamliner 1): Set to be powered on again very soon. Will go through a "medium blow" pressurization test in early February. The engines nacelles cowlings have been reinstalled as well as the remaining control surfaces. As I reported earlier, Boeing has thrown a lot of resources at LN 1 and Boeing is leaving on some of the temporary fasteners for the duration of the testing program. This decision has saved a lot of time. Speaking of which the time frame for first flight looks to be shifting to the right a bit with some milestones now being classified as TBD. This includes first flight which was thought to be around the April 20th to April 24th time frame.

LN 2 (Dreamliner 2) : Dreamliner 2 had its engines and all flaps installed and work continues to center on finishing up fastener replacement. Jon is also reporting that power on should happen soon followed by the start of ground vibration testing in mid-March.

LN 3 (Dreamliner 3): Dreamliner 3 is on it's legs (landing gear) and has its engine pylons on.

LN 4 (Dreamliner 4): Dreamliner 4 is about to get its legs. This airplane, probably because it's in more complete shape, has a low priority in terms of resources.

LN 5 (Dreamliner 5): Dreamliner 5 is about to start final assembly. The main fuselage section is undergoing some traveled work installation prior to being sent into position 1 on the final assembly line. Section 41 arrived 100% complete and the rear fuselage arrived 95% complete. The pylons for the GEnx engines have been installed on the wings. This aircraft has arrived in a more complete state than the previous aircraft.

LN 6 (Dreamliner 6): The wings have come in and are virtually complete and have been painted as well.

ZY997 and ZY 998: The static and fatigue test airframes continue to have their fasteners replaced. for the static airframe this should be done by middle of February and thus set the stage for the resumption of static tests that are needed prior to first flight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gettin' Busy in the 787 Program

The 787 is getting busy through out the world. Information that I got says that there has been a tremendous amount of resources thrown at Dreamliner 1 and Dreamliner 2 to those two aircraft finished. LN 2 though as not been powered up and probably won't be until well after it is done with vibration testing.

Additionally Dreamliner 5 will start final assembly today and not tomorrow or Wedensday as I first thought. Section 41 (forward fuselage section) is already in position at the join tool and looks like the main fusealge will follow suit shortly.

Lastly, there has been an uptempo of LCF (Dreamlifter) flights. between the major partners which strongly suggests that the 787 production system is getting ramped up again. I've been tracking flight between Charleston, Nagoya and Grottaglie aswell as Everett. I'll continue to look at this trend to see how frequent the flights are and if they LCFs are making any fueling stops (In Anchorage or the UK) which indicates the presence of fuselage sections or wings that are being transported from Japan and Italy.

However, just because these is an increase in LCF flights doesn't necessarily mean that parts are being transported between sites, however it does bode well now that Dreamliner 5 will start final assembly soon.

UPDATE: Scott Hamilton has a story out on the 6 test 787 flying with temporary fasteners for the test flight program. the temporary fasteners will be replaced when the 6 airplanes undergo post test flight modifications in San Antonio. Read Scott's report here.

Dreamliner 5 to start final assembly soon

The 5th flying 787 should start final assembl by tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest now that all the major assemblies have been delivered to Boeing's Everett facility. This is another important milestone in the 787 program as this plane will be the first GEnx powered 787 and will be used to certify the GEnx powered 787.

I expect that the airplane parts arrived with about a 95% to 98% completion. I think with Dreamliner 8 we'll see no traveled work from the major tier 1 partners and improved final assembly time from Boeing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Forward Fuselage of Dreamliner 5 heading for Everett

Looks like the forward fuselage section (section 41) for Dreamliner 5 is being shipped tonight on the LCF. Here's the flightaware alert

It's entirely possible that the main fuselage can be delivered next week and LN 5 will enter final assembly before the end of the month. The wings for LN 6 have already been delivered to Everett.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Thai Airways may buy 787-9

According to our partner Airways Aviation News, Thai Airways may purchase 14 787-9 Dreamliners instead of leasing them. Thai's board is meeting next week to discuss this purchase. Read the story here.

UPDATE (01/08/09): Boeing released it's 2008 order and delivery numbers. In December Boeing booked an order for 15 787s from an unidentified customer. It is now known that this customer ordered 15 787-9s. I'm wondering if it was Thai who placed that order?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dreamliner 5 to start final assembly soon?

Jon Ostrower is reporting on his blog that the rear fuselage section for Dreamliner 5 will be arriving this week. That only leaves the forward fuselage and the main fuselage sections to be delivered. I'm still trying to find out when those sections will be delivered.

Also Jon reported that the pieces for the main fuselage section for Dreamliner 9 have been delivered to Global Aeronautica this past weekend to start that section's assembly and systems integration process.

UPDATE (1/12/2009): Jon Ostrower reported on his blog here, that the aft fuselage for LN 5 has arrived in Everett and that it is 95% complete. It has it fasteners repalced. Jon things the remaining two sections should be in Everett by the end of the month to start final assembly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

787 coming out

787 no. 1 will be leaving the final assembly hall for the last time for a spot in the 767 final assembly hall for about a month or so of assembly tasks and fastener repalcement tasks. Currently it is out of buidling 40-26 waiting for the the spot in 40-24 to open up (a 777 and the 787 fatigue test frame are also being moved). ZY998 will move to the flight line prior to being moved to the fatigue test area.

Also with on the card for tonight's move is the move of LN 2, LN 3, and LN4 to the spots forward of where they are. This will mean that position 1 in the 787 final assembly building (the big bang) will be free for the next 787 to enter final assembly, LN 5, or the GEnx test airframe.

I hope to link to pictures on other sites that document tonight's activities.

See here and here for Matt Cawby's pictures. She still is missings bits and pieces here and there.

Here's a FLICKR page with a lot of great pics from last night's move. And here's a video that Jon Ostrower also posted on his blog. Great details of the 787 here.

Dreamliner One Line Move from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

By the way, the other three 787s in building 40-26 were moved down one spot each as well. None have their engines hung as of yet.