Wednesday, August 26, 2009

End of August and the 787 summertime blues

Well we're quickly approaching the end of August, the end of summer and hopefully the end of a period that Boeing would like to forget. If it weren't for the side of body issue the 787 would be flying around Boeing Field now for about two months. Now we have to wait about another three month for that happen (if Flightblogger is correct) and another month from now to hear Boeing's revised schedule. Too much is now riding on this for them to get it wrong. So with that in mind let's try and look ahead to what's yet to come.

As some of you may know, Boeing big wigs flew into Everett last week from Chicago and I believe the big topic of conversation was the 787. But I am hearing that Scott Carson might be retiring at the end of this year. Coincidence or not we'll see but right now it's just a rumor. I wonder if it's another coincidence that Boeing filed building permits today for the North Charleston site. Me thinks not! Boeing needs the second line to recover the lost ground in 787 production so the second line is inevitable (I said so a year ago) and I think Boeing will add additional autoclave capabilities to the 2nd line. The question will be where will the 2nd line go? At this point, if I'm a betting man it will be North Charleston but that will hinge on the vote by Boeing Charleston workers weather to decertify its union on Sept. 10th. If it is decertified then I think North Charleston is a shoo in despite what concessions Washington State and the IAM would give to Boeing. Boeing needs to have uninterrupted production if they are to catch up with deliveries. IAM going out on strike every 3 to 4 years will only get in the way of that.

Now articles are out that Air Berlin is considering cancelling it's order for 25 787-8s whether this is a bluff to wring out more concessions from Boeing is unclear though it sounds like Air Berlin is making an issue of the delays as a cornerstone of their arguments. That's a little surprising as they would be grateful for the delays as Air Berlin has a lot of capacity right now and they would probably need to add capacity in the future after the world economy recovers and air travel with it.

Now let's see what's happening on the tarmac at Everett. Well not too much there there is a big pup tent in the middle of the Boeing flight line where several of the 787 that will be in line for the fix will receive it. Out on the flight line there are 4 787s: LN2 (in ANA livery), ZY998 the fatigue air frame, LN6 and another test flight 787 in the Boeing 787 livery which I suspect may be LN 5. I think LN 4 is probably in 40-26 and LN 3 is still in 40-22 and LN 1 in the paint shop. That means that LN 7 and LN 8 probably have made or will make a line move soon to clear way to start final assembly on LN 9. The parts of this aircraft are in Everett.

Guy Norris also reported that tests are still going on on LN 2 on the Boeing flightline. He also has a great article on Boeing's moves in Charleston as well.

Guy's August 25 787 update
Guy's Boeing-Charleston Article
Air Berlin Mulls 787 Cancellation

Lastly, is Wall Street turning bullish on Boeing and specifically the 787? According to Scott Hamilton at Leeham & Co. a couple of Wall Street analyst now have a brighter outlook on the 787.

Scott's article on 787 forward loss.

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