Friday, December 24, 2010

787 Certification Flight can start as early as January 3rd

Sources have told me that certification flight testing on the 787 can start again as early as January 3rd though it still depends on the results of the Boeing flight tests (testing the software fix) and the FAA's final approval to resume the certification program.

ZA004 made a successful return to test flight yesterday by flying a 1 hour and 35 minutes test flight around the Seattle/ Puget Sound region.

Here's the current flight test statistics that I've been keeping:

On Dec. 20th there was a line move and the 31st 787 (ZA117/LN31 for ANA) entered final assembly in Boeing's 40-26 final assembly building. LN 27 (ZA178 for Japan Airlines) went to the paint hangar. I have a fully updated spreadsheet below of the current status of the 787s around Everett:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Boeing announces the resumption of flight tests

As expected this came across today. My comments and other information will follow:

Boeing Resumes 787 Flight Testing

- Interim solution verified through extensive testing

- Schedule assessment expected to conclude in January

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) will resume flight test activities on the 787 Dreamliner later today. The company has installed an interim version of updated power distribution system software and conducted a rigorous set of reviews to confirm the flight readiness of ZA004, the first of the six flight test airplanes that will return to flight.

"Initially, we will resume a series of Boeing tests that remain to be completed in the flight test program. That testing will be followed later by a resumption of certification testing," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. Today's testing will include an intentional deployment of the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), which is a small turbine that is deployed when back-up power is required.

Boeing and Hamilton Sundstrand completed testing of the interim software updates earlier this week. Verification of the system included laboratory testing of standalone components, integration testing with other systems, flight simulator testing and ground-based testing on a flight test airplane.

In the last several weeks, the company continued ground testing as part of the certification program. Additional ground testing will be done by the company on the production version of the airplane to further verify performance of the changes being made.

"As we return to flight test and determine the pace of that activity, we remain focused on developing a new program schedule," Fancher added. "We expect to complete our assessment of the program schedule in January."

Flight testing of the 787 was suspended last month following an in-flight electrical incident on a test flight in Laredo, Texas.

A couple of key points:
1) Testing is being done on an interim software fix. This is not the final version that will be required on all production planes
2) Boeing tests - Boeing is conducting these test not the FAA
3) The first test involves the deployment and testing of the RAT - Did the RAT not work as expected on ZA002?
4) One 787 will return to flight test, the others?

Ok my take....Boeing is going to be testing an interim software fix; hardware fix, it seems, is done. The FAA is more concerned with the way the power distribution systems handled during the in flight emergency on ZA002. Now this software fix is going to run through different scenarios and test conditions to see how it reacts. Boeing is going to have to demonstrate to the FAA the power distribution software will react in way intended in the case of an in flight fire. Because this is an interim fix I expect that there will be changes made that will have to be tested in the systems integration and engineering lab before being flown on ZA004 which I assume will be the test bed for this software fix.

Until the FAA is 100% satisfied that this fix does not allow the recurrence of the problems that the crew experienced on the flight deck, Boeing will have to continue to make changes to the software and test it in the ground labs and in flight test before the FAA will allow certification testing to restart. Boeing tells me that they are having continued discussions with the FAA over the resumptions of certification test flights which I presume will include a discussion of the results of the Boeing flight tests and the software fixes that are being tested.

Boeing has told me a couple of tid bits.

1) All the flights that occurred on November 7th including the ferry flights will be logged as official 787 flights. This includes ZA002's flight. It should appear on the 787 flight test scorecard. It is already on my flight test tracker and I will update it for all flight that are carried out for today onwards.

2) The other 787s will be rejoining the flight test program in the days and weeks ahead. ZA004 will not be the only 787 flying in these Boeing tests.

3) An industry source has told me that Boeing plans to have the new delivery schedule ready around the week of January 17th though it is not a certain time frame. A lot will depend on how these test flights go as well as complete review of the work that the program has to complete on all the built 787s that are scattered all over Everett.

Lastly, Guy Norris has a post up on the Aviation Week site. In it he reveals that Boeing is getting the systems labs operational again to fully support the flight testing of the oftware fix. Guy also says that Boeing expects to see certification flight testing to resume sometime in January.

Read Guy's post:

Guy Norris: 787 Return to Flight

Resumption of 787 test take

Boeing is expected to announce the resumption of 787 test flights but Susanna Ray at Bloomberg is reporting that these are only company test flights and not FAA certification test flights. There is no information on when certification test flights with FAA personnel aboard will resume.

Boeing, in my opinion got FAA approval, to resume test flights with Boeing personnel in order to collect data on the fixes that needed to be made in light of the November 9th fire on ZA002. Boeing has to prove out the hardware and software changes in order to give the FAA satisfaction that there won't be a recurrence of the problems that lead to the fire and the resulting loss of power which necessitated the deployment of the RAT (Ram Air Turbine) to provide power to critical systems while the aircraft was landing in Laredo. Once Boeing has collected the data analyzed it and presented it, then the resumption of Certification test flights will hinge on if the FAA has comfort in Boeing's analysis.

Boeing expected to announce resumption of test flights.

UPDATE 2: Flightblogger says that ZA004 will fly today from Everett as part of the return to test flights.

UPDATE: Bloomberg is also reporting that Boeing will resume 787 test flights but they will only be company test flights only and not counted towards FAA certification purposes.

Various sources have confirmed that Boeing is finalizing plans to announce a resumption of test flights with this announcement possibly coming after the market close today, Dec. 23rd. Boeing is not expected to announce a new delivery schedule however and various industry sources have told me that this announcement could come sometime around the release of Boeing's 2010 earning release in late January. The return to test flights can resume as early as today.

While the resumption of test flights is a major step forward for the 787 it is still disconcerting that Boeing doesn't have a delivery schedule ready. This points to the other issues that have plagued the program, namely the amount of unfinished work that has to be completed on the assembled jets and the ones that have yet to be assembled. According to Dominic Gates this amounts to about 140,000 individual jobs spread across the aircraft that have been produced (24 airplanes). Some would take a few hours while others would take a few weeks. Boeing, I believe, is trying to get its arms around the scope of work that has to be completed, what it will take, how long it will take and the investment needed to finish these airplanes.

Looks like I only got half a present I wanted for Xmas...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I want for a 787 schedule

That's is probably want Boeing's 787 customer base is singing this holiday season. Yet Boeing doesn't seem any closer to issuing their revised schedule or say when test flights will resume. There does seem to be a lot of ground testing going on and Boeing is preparing ZA102 for its first flight though right now it is conducting extensive ground tests including starting it engines for the first time on Dec. 22nd. However that is little comfort with the airplanes still stuck on the ground and the certification test flights on hold.

There is a report that Boeing may have solved some of the electrical issues to the satisfaction of the FAA which may allow Boeing to resume test flights as early as this weekend, I believe this is doubtful as Boeing is basically shutdown from Dec. 24th through January 2nd for the Holidays. A source has told me that they were looking to resume test flights around Dec. 23-24th but now this is looking doubtful. Boeing has been in very frequent (daily) meeting with the FAA over the resumption of test flights and certification though. However it may not be too much of a stretch that Boeing has resolved issues to the FAA satisfaction. Boeing Japan President, Michael Denton, has said that Boeing is expected to announce a return to test flights soon though he didn't have an update for the delivery schedule.

The fact that Boeing maybe returning to test flights soon is good news the fact that they may still be weeks away from announcing when deliveries would start is troubling. It may indicate that the real issues are the unfinished work, supplier problems and on going engineering changes which won't be improved upon to support a near term delivery schedule.

The FAA is coming down hard on Boeing to such an extent that ETOPS certification out of the box may be in serious jeopardy according to Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times.

In an article that was published 5 days ago, Dominic described the amount of work that has to be done on the Dreamliners that are already assembled. His sources have told him that there about 140,000 incomplete items on all these airplanes that have yet to be done, either in Everett or in San Antonio where crews will put the 787s through the change incorporation program and prepare these airplanes for delivery. One 787 (one for Air India) has been on the Boeing flightline without the horizontal stabilizer indicating that Boeing is still dealing with the poor workmanship from Alenia.

Dominic Gates: Dreamliner's woes pile up

Boeing to boost 777 output 66 percent by 2013 amid 787 delays

Lastly, Flightblogger has published an extensive article on the 787 business case. In it he describes how the deep discounts that Boeing gave on the 787 has put Boeing under fiscal pressure to make a profit on this program. The discounts were on the order of around $65mm that was given to one large airline who placed a very large order. Boeing had calculated that the program would cost about $5bn and now estimates are for around $12bn - $18bn additional after factoring in cost overruns, compensation to customers, and additional resources needed to finish all the outstanding work.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Round Up of 787 News

Most of the 787 news centered on the review of the 787 one year after the first flight of ZA001 but Guy Norris did add on interesting tid bit at the end of his one year anniversary review. He says that ZA004's APU ground test has been cancelled and reason might be for a return to test flying. We'll see what transpires. Here's links for the 787 first flight anniversary articles.

Guy Norris: 787's first year of flight - a retrospective

ANA Discusses 787 Pain Threshold

Flightblogger: December 12, 2010: Dreamliner at One

Aubrey Cohen: One year after first flight, Boeing 787 remains clouded

Monday, December 13, 2010

One Year In....The 787 year in review.

For the last 12 months I've been giving a monthly update on the 787 flight test progress with the exception of last month. With the one year anniversary of ZA001's first flight and the suspension of 787 flight activities, it seems an appropriate time to review the 787 program and try and take a look ahead to see what awaits the 787. It has been a year of triumphs and heartache within the program and the current forecast for the program is, at best, overcast.

787 - December 15, 2009 to December 14, 2010

December 15, 2009 was a day that Boeing hoped that see the start of putting the troubles of the 787 program in the rear view mirror. It was a day that cloudy and rainy (typical Pacific Northwest weather). The first 787, ZA001, made an on time takeoff and flew for a little over 3 hours. ZA002 flew one week later in a flight that was shortened by issues with the main landing gear door and the nose gear. Nevertheless these initial flights started Boeing on the path of initial airworthiness flight trials. The 787 achieved IAT in mid January 2010 which allowed Boeing to conduct test with the other test flight airplanes as well as with engineers on board. This allowed for the expansion of the787 flight test envelope which would include stability and control testings, flutter testing and functionality and reliability testing of the airplane.

Boeing added airplanes to the test flight fleet with ZA004 flying in late February, 2010 and ZA003 flying in mid March 2010. The near term goal of the program was to achieve Type Inspection Authorization for the 787. This is the point that would formally kick off the certification program for the 787. This point of the program was expected to be achieved by mid to late February, 2010 but was not granted until April 20, 2010. This was a major indicator that the program may suffer delays to the delivery schedule yet again. During this period Boeing had successfully test the 787 wing to the ultimate load limit test on ZY997, the static test airframe. This was a major certification test point that Boeing needed to accomplish given the issues that Boeing had found almost a year earlier with the side of body join and the weakness that was discovered.

Boeing continued testing throughout the spring and summer of 2010. They seemingly hit a very good flight test pace during late May/early June only to see the number of flight and flight hours flown to drop off a month later and then recover later in the summer. Progress was made in September through the early part of November with significant flight hours being posted especially with the GEnx powered 787s that had finally joined the flight test program. However there were set back to flight testing (and production) due to the time needed to inspect the horizontal stabilizers on all 787s due to Alenia's workmanship issues. Boeing needed to spend precious time and resources to inspect and conduct any repairs on the aircraft that were built and/or flying. Still despite the Alenia debacle, Boeing was still on track to deliver the 787 by end of 2010 until an early August Trent 1000 engine test in Derby, UK took a bad turn and the engine had an uncontained failure of it intermediate pressure turbine.

This was a major setback for Rolls and Boeing as it threw the entire schedule into doubt. Indeed, the engine that failed was due to be installed on ZA102 (LN 9) which was to be used for flight tests of production standard aircraft. Boeing had to delay delivery to mid February because of the unavailability of an engine for ZA102 within the needed time frame to start flight tests on this aircraft.

Still Boeing said they were confident in Rolls Royce's hardware and software fixes to prevent a recurrence of the failure and Boeing continued with flight and ground testing of the 787 through early fall until Nov. 9th.

ZA002 was flying a long duration test flight with FAA personnel aboard testing the nitrogen generating system (part of the fuel inerting system) and was on final approach to an airport in Laredo Texas when a fire erupted in the lower electronics bay near the left wing. The fire was out after about 30 seconds but the power panel where the fire originated was destroyed and the aircraft had experienced power distribution problems while in the process of landing. An emergency was declared (apparently after landing) and the crew and test personnel evacuated the aircraft using the emergency slides.

The problems that lead to the fire in the P100 power distribution panel are now well known but now at this point, one year after the first 787 flew the 787 schedule is in shambles. The aviation world is waiting for Boeing's revised schedule. The 787 has had more than its fair share of problems and delays since it was launched in 2004 and there's nothing to say that there won't be any more issues when Boeing and the FAA resumes flight testing.

Boeing is still encountering supplier and production issues and probably will continue to see sporadic halts to part deliveries into Everett. Clearly there is still plenty of issues that need to be cleaned up so that Boeing can start deliveries of the 787 and ramp up production. However, the aviation world is now waking up to the fact in light of problems in various aircraft programs (A380, 787, A400M, F-35, and the A350) that the old model that aircraft manufacturers used to develop, design, test and produce high technology aircraft is out the door. Robert Wall of Aviation Week summed it nicely in a blog post a week ago: "Skeptics quip that Airbus is effectively fighting the last war, and that the only thing it is assuring is that it will invent a whole new series of missteps. If that turns out to be true, then perhaps it is time to put to bed the idea of accelerating development cycles on major products and just learn to live with the fact that the gestation period for a major civil aircraft program is eight years or longer."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Guy Norris: Electrical contactors in P100 is possible source where fire started

Guy Norris got more information on the possible ignition source of the fire in the P100 panel on board ZA002. An electrical contactor which helps distribute power from the engines. There are two of these contactors. One was discovered melted while the other suffered extensive damage.

Another bit of news is that the insulation between the fuselage and the P100 power panel was charred and had been effective in protecting the composite skin of the fuselage. This has been a point of debate in some circles and now apparently the insulation did protect the fuselage as it was meant to do. This should give Boeing and the FAA some comfort.

You can read Guy's post:

Guy Norris: Mid-2011 delivery for delayed 787?

French Newspaper: 787 to be delivered late June to early July

The French newspaper, Les Echos is reporting that Air France execs have been told that Boeing is now expecting to deliver the first 787s in the late June to early July time frame. I believe that Boeing can deliver the 787 around mid May.

If true this would be a four and a half month delay. The newspaper reports that fixes should be done by the end of December with test flights resuming in January. This all, of course, is dependent on FAA approval of the required fixes. Click here for the Les Echos article. The translation is below (by Google Translate):

If no date is yet officially adopted, the first deliveries of Boeing 787 could ultimately involve next summer - perhaps late June or early July. Or with a little over three months late on the last date. This was suggested yesterday some Boeing executives to their counterparts in Air France, alongside the delivery of a B777 to the French company.

For now, the six copies of the 787 tests are still grounded, a month after a fire in a cabinet during a test flight, which resulted in the interruption certification program. But Boeing engineers believe they have identified the source of the problem and possible solutions to them.

The fire was caused by the presence of particles in the closet - and not a forgotten tool as has been mentioned. The short circuit would result in a blackout then the electricity network, despite the security software. Boeing and its partners to the electrical system, Hamilton Sunstrand and Zodiac, have therefore set about rewriting the computer program key.

The aim would be to complete corrections by the end of the year, to resume test flights in January, and lead to certification in June. However, the manufacturer must obtain clearance from the FAA, U.S. Civil Aviation, before resuming its flight tests. If all goes as planned, the consequences of this seventh postponement since the launch of the program would thus without serious consequences on the delivery schedule.

Boeing has 26 Dreamliners on hold on its site in Everett, the colors of All Nippon, Air India and Japan Airlines, which it only needs the engine still installed at the last moment, and the buffer FAA to be delivered. In addition, a second assembly line 787 should start in the summer of 2011 in Charleston, to help make up for lost time.

There is also an article in the Economic Times referencing the same Les Echos article:

Economic Times: Boeing Dreamliner delivery delay to July: Report

Monday, December 6, 2010

Boeing initiates 3 week 787 production halt; production to resume on Dec. 23rd.

Flightblogger broke news this morning that Boeing has initiated a 3 week halt to part deliveries into Everett. The halt started a week ago when LN 31 (ZA117) did not load into the final assembly tool on Dec. 1st as expected. According to my sources, this airplane is now expected to start final assembly on Dec. 23rd...about two and a half weeks from now. Parts for this airplane have arrived though Boeing is halting parts so that they can minimize "adverse effects" to the final assembly line. It's unknown what the adverse effects may be.

This news comes on top of Spirit Aerosystems announcing that they were temporarily halting production of the 787 forward fuselage sections and reassigning those workers to help with 737 overtime production. Spirit currently has 50 forward fuselage sections either delivered or in the production process in Wichita. It is probably unrelated to the current production halt as Boeing is telling it's suppliers to continue their production and delivery schedules. Flightblogger reported that the main fuselage section for ZA117 has not arrived into Everett leading me to believe that Boeing Charleston might be the source of the current production delay.

This is the 4th production halt this year as Boeing is still attempting to ramp up production of the 787. This only adds to the problems the program is facing in the midst of the power panel fire on ZA002 and the subsequent need to initiate re-design of hardware and software in the 787. It is still unknown when the 787 will return to test flight though I think it'll happen between the first and second week of January.

You can read Flightblogger's post:

Flightblogger: Breaking: Boeing halts 787 part deliveries for another three weeks

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ZA002 to fly back to Boeing Field, Boeing still expects to issues new schedules in the next several weeks

Boeing spokesperson Lori Gunter issued a press release saying that ZA002, the 787 that had been damaged in a fire almost a month ago, has been repaired and is scheduled to return to Boeing Field soon. Boeing did not give a specific date but Flightaware shows that ZA002 will be flying back today. Boeing had fully repaired the aircraft and performed ground test to validate the repairs. There won't be any flight test activities performed on the airplane during the ferry flight back to Boeing Field.

Flightaware ZA002 track

Here's Boeing's press release:

ZA002 Returning to Seattle

Boeing has readied ZA002, the 787 flight test airplane that experienced an electrical fire on Nov. 9, to be flown from Laredo, Texas, to Seattle. Maintenance technicians replaced the damaged P100 power distribution panel, repaired damage to interior composite structure and installed new insulation material.
The team in Laredo, Texas, has completed a series of ground test operations and
inspections to validate the repairs. The flight, which is expected to occur soon, will not include test operations.

In related news Boeing Commercial Airplane chief, James Albaugh said that Boeing still has more work to do in order to finalize plans for the necessary modifications and fix to the power distribution system and then develop a schedule based on that and probably other considerations in the program. Albaugh is saying that there will be a schedule slip which is expected but has not yet said how long that slip would be. His comments were to Reuters. You can read the article by clicking HERE.

Still all this is not sitting well with customers for the 787. ANA is demanding a new schedule as well as details about the problem that caused the fire and subsequent power problems. Qatar Airways has called the 787 a "failed" program though it seems that they're still holding on to their order for 30 787s. China Eastern Airlines is saying that they will cancel their order for 15 787s though Shanghai Airlines, which is owned by China Eastern, has not said if they too will cancel.

It is too early to tell if customers will stick with Boeing and the 787 until the revised schedule is out.

Still Boeing is still continuing with production with the 31st 787 to be loaded into position 1 today or tomorrow. This airplane, ZA117, is destined for ANA. ZA178 which is for Japan Airlines will be rolled out to the paint hangar.

Ground test continue to be performed on the 787 test flight fleet in lieu of flight tests as well. Boeing is also making progress in terms of getting the other 787s ready for flight tests and delivery. As had been reported earlier, a 787 destined for Japan Airlines received it's GEnx-1B engines this past weekend and one of the production 787 that will undertake flight/ground testing was rolled out to the flightline. I had reported that this airplane was ZA102 but it might be ZA101 which is to take part in ground tests though I'm working to try and confirm which aircraft is actually out on the flightline.

Flightblogger reported today that production airplanes will be flown to San Antonio, Texas where they will go through the change incorporation program prior to being delivered. Flightblogger is reporting that the Japan Airlines 787 (ZA177) will be the 3rd or 4th 787 to be delivered. It seems that now production airplanes are starting to get their powerplants in preparation for the flights to San Antonio though when these airplanes will be flown will be determined by the new schedule that Boeing should put out in the next several weeks.

Flightblogger: Repairs complete in Laredo, ZA002 to return home to Seattle

Lastly, I am still standing by my earlier prediction of a three month delay for 787 deliveries.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First production 787 with Engines out on Boeing flight line

Boeing has rolled out the first production 787 to be equiped with engines to the flightline. The Trent 1000 powered 787 (LN 9, ZA102) spent months being prepared for first flight in Boeing's final assembly hall. It will be the first production 787 to fly and will undertake ETOPS, funtionality and reliabilty as well as a host of other tests. The results will be then compared to similar test already flwon by the 787 teswt flight fleet. It was to have its first flight this months but given the upheaval in the 787 program bought on by the fire on ZA002, that time line is in flux. A second production 787, ZA101, is also being fitted with its Trent 1000 engines and will perform ground tests at Everett.

Matt Cawby got some great photos and video of ZA102 at the compass rose at Everett.

Matt Cawby: Paine Field, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boeing: Changes to Power Panel Design; revised schedule still weeks away

Boeing has acknowledged the rumors circulating around that it was indeed FOD (foreign object damage) that had caused a short circuit that led to the fire in the P100 power panel.

As a consequence Boeing will undertake a minor redesign of the power panel to reduce the chance of FOD creating and electrical arc or short circuit. Boeing will also implement software changes to make sure that power distribution is improved. This appears to be an acknowledgement that the electrical power redundancies failed as well.

Boeing did not present a revised schedule as they have yet to work that out but they are saying it should be ready in a few weeks. They are developing a plan to present to the FAA for the resumption of flight tests as well asto ferry ZA002 back from Laredo.

Also Flightblogger reports that the foreign object was small and not something the size of a tool as had been earlier reported. KING 5, a Seattle TV station says that it was a washer that caused the short circuit.

Again there is no word on how long it will take the implement the redesign or the software changes. Additionally, the FAA will have to approve all these changes so the schedule will remain in flux.

Boeing will be closed tomorrow and Friday for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Here is Boeing's press release:

Boeing Initiates Changes to 787 Power Panel, Updates to Software

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) is developing minor design changes to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane. These changes come as the result of what has been learned from the investigation of an onboard electrical fire on a test airplane, ZA002, earlier this month in Laredo, Texas.

"We have successfully simulated key aspects of the onboard event in our laboratory and are moving forward with developing design fixes," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "Boeing is developing a plan to enable a return to 787 flight test activities and will present it to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as soon as it is complete."

Engineers have determined that the fault began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc in the P100 power distribution panel, most likely caused by the presence of foreign debris. The design changes will improve the protection within the panel. Software changes also will be implemented to further improve fault protection.
The P100 panel is one of five major power distribution panels on the 787. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems.

The 787 team is now assessing the time required to complete the design changes and software updates that are being developed. A revised 787 program schedule is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks.

"Our team is focused on developing these changes and moving forward with the flight test program," said Fancher. "The team in Laredo is also well along in preparing to return ZA002 to Seattle.

Flightblogger: Breaking: Electrical redesign to push 787 delivery

Guy Norris: 787 fire - arc or short

Scott Hamilton: 78 fire caused by FOD, design changes coming, no word on delay

Randy Tinseth: Likely cause of ZA002 incident determined

Aubrey Cohen: Boeing: 787 will need minor changes; schedule impact unknown

At the end of the day everyone wants to know what is the schedule impact of the fire and the resulting redesign of software and hardware. A source told me that he believes that it would set back the 787 no more than three months. Given the information that has come out thus far and my discussions with sources, I do feel that mid to late May delivery time frame is probably about right given the redesign efforts as well as the rework that has to be done on the production aircraft.

Seattle TV Station says washer caused fire on ZA002

A Seattle TV (KING 5) station is reporting that a washer came into contact with parts inside the P100 panel which started the fire. The contact caused a short circuit which sparked the fire on ZA002. The good news is that there will be relatively simple redesign but we have yet to hear about this as well as and potential redesign to make sure that the 787 has full electrical redundancies in these types of emergency situations.

KING 5 also says that Boeing is expected to make a statement today. The stock market is closed so it should be out soon. Stay tuned....

KING 5: KING 5 learns cause of 787 fire

Flightblogger: 787 fire investigation coming to an end

In posting today, Flightblogger is reporting that Boeing has concluded its investigation of the fire aboard ZA002 and they could be in a position to publicly release the results as well as a new schedule but it seems all but certain that there will be another delay. What is not known is how long the delay will be with estimates ranging from 6 months to as much as a year.

Indications are pointing towards FOD as the culprit but there is still open questions as to what the FOD was and where was it located. Additionally, a more important flag was raised about the 787s power redundancies in case of a loss of a unit like P100.

Fligthblogger also revealed that Boeing was able to recreate the effects in the systems integration lab.

Boeing needs to understand why the 787 had assumed that all power was loss and the RAT was deployed (it only deploys in the event of a total power loss). This might necessitate a software and/or hardware fix though it is not known at this time.

On a related note, Susanna Ray of Bloomberg News put out an article where Wall Street analysts say that a 7th delay is a foregone conclusion. Dominic Gates also has an article detailing the investigation and the possibility that FOD played a role in the fire.

The fire may have revealed a potential problem with how power is distributed in the event one of the power distribution panels failed like the P100 did. It is better to find these issues now instead of an revenue flight with 200 passengers on board.

You can read each of the article by clicking the link below:

Flightblogger: Boeing nears end to 787 fire investigation

Susanna Ray: Boeing Dreamliner Faces Seventh Delay, Analysts Say

Dominic Gates: Boeing investigating if foreign object caused 787 electrical fire

Monday, November 22, 2010

French Newspaper: Forgtten tool in P100 sparked fire

Ok, I'm not sure how credible this report is but in light of Scott Hamilton's report that FOD was the culprit of the fire, there is now this from the French newspaper "Le Figaro". The article refers to a report in another French newspaper "La Tribune" about a tool being left in the panel. Click HERE to access the article in French. Click HERE for the artice in La Tribune. Below is a translation using Google Translation fro the article in Le Figaro:

A foreign body may have triggered the fire that broke out Nov. 9 on a test flight of a Boeing 787, forcing since the American manufacturer to suspend his campaign test flight within 3 months delivery date official said Monday The Tribune.

"A tool, forgotten in a cabinet (which is software components, ie), has caused a short circuit," according to comments from industry sources reported by the daily La Tribune.

However, this would not have such consequences, notes the newspaper, noting that the entire power distribution system is at stake.

The Tribune added that several manufacturers are involved, including French Zodiac, one of the subcontractors of the American Hamilton, supervisor of the electricity distribution and Boeing aircraft, Specifications and controls.

And translation of the La Tribune article:

Incredible as it may seem, it is a forgotten tool in a cabinet that is at the origin of the fire on 9 November that forced Boeing to halt flight testing of the B787. Although detected, the anomaly still poses problems for engineers who need to understand how to prevent it from reproducing. Among the subcontractors in the crosshairs: French Zodiac.

FOD for "foreign object damage" or damage caused by foreign body. That, according to several industry sources, the triggering element of the fire that broke out Nov. 9 on a test flight of a Boeing 787, forcing since the manufacturer to suspend its test campaign flight three months after the first delivery to All Nippon Airways. "A tool, forgotten in a cabinet (which is software, components ..., ed) caused a short circuit," says Will we at The Tribune.

However, this should not have such consequences. Because the whole system of power distribution, a crucial point in the plane, which is involved. "For security, everything is redundant in a plane. But the blackout that occurred in the first cabinet spread to the second, and the aircraft had to use emergency power management to ask, "say the sources. This is a small wind turbine (called the rate) that is located on the fuselage and a small generator supplying emergency power for the aircraft to land.

Several manufacturers are involved in this can of worms. Including French Zodiac one of the subcontractors of the American Hamilton (subsidiary of United Technologies), supervisor of distribution of electricity in the air, and of course Boeing, Specifications and controls. The French equipment provides such components in the cabinet. Hamilton provides other. "However, you can not blame anyone for now, says one industry, as more than a problem of quality of play is a problem in the logic of management of the electrical system since the breakdown spread. "

Nevertheless, the results of races may be final. The Boeing 787 was headed straight for seventh behind. It is even a certainty for the highly respected Steven Udvar-Hazy, head of aircraft lessor Air Lease Corporation. "If changes are needed on some software, it will take time and aircraft deliveries will be postponed," said a French industrialist. Morgan Stanley, such a scenario could shift the first deliveries of the aircraft at 2012. They were laid in 2008, when launching the program in 2004.
ZA004 did make the ferry flight to Everett yesterday though ZA003 has not returned to Boeing Field as of yet but Guy Norris is reporting that ZA002 being prepped for a return flight back to Boeing Field though no date has been set. Additionally, ZA001 is now entering a lay up period for maintenance with ZA004.

Guy Norris: 787 ZA004 returns to Everett

Friday, November 19, 2010

Guy Norris: Another brief 787 flight

Guy Norris says that two 787s will fly briefly on Saturday, Nov. 20th. ZA003 will fly from Everett to Boeing Field while ZA004 will fly in the opposite direction going to Everett from Boeing Field.

ZA004 will be going to Everett to get some routine maintenance accomplished. This maintenance work was preplanned. ZA003 is expected to resume ground tests at Boeing Field. ZA001, ZA005 and ZA006 are also conducting ground tests until they all can have clearance to resume test flights.

Lastly, ZA102 which is the first production 787 to fly will be rolled out of 40-24 around the end of the month according to Guy. It would be fitted with the package "A" Trent 1000 engines and is schedule to fly in December depending on what happens with the fire investigation. Even if it doesn't fly it could still conduct ground test as well as taxi tests.

Guy Norris: 787 to fly again (briefly) on Saturday

Another 787 delay prediction, Scott Hamilton says 4 to 6 months

Aviation analyst, Scott Hamilton, is predicting a 4 to 6 month delay in delivering the 787 to customers. He is saying that the cause of the fire is being narrowed down and that it could be an instance of FOD (foreign object damage) that started the fire in the P100 power panel. The fires was not related to any testing activity

Still the panel and the electrical system would need to be redesigned but Boeing has a good handle on the scope of the work to be done. Additionally, Boeing is working with the FAA in order to resume flight testing while using a work around the panel issue and at the same time undertake the redesign of the the panel.

Scott Hamilton: Our 787 forecast: 4 - 6 month delay

FOD does seem (at this point) logical for the following reason: during the two plus years that the 787 first flight was delayed, Boeing and Hamilton Sundstrand had thoroughly tested the electrical system including the P100 panel in the Boeing systems lab in Seattle. There was no known occurrence of fire during those tests. As such because of the delays, many of the 787 systems have been thoroughly tested and are considered mature systems. Any issues that were uncovered during that time would have been corrected by now.

ATW: Boeing to announce 7th 787 delay

According to Geoffrey Thomas of Air Transport World, Boeing is getting ready to announce another delivery delay of possibly up to 9 months. Geoffrey also cites QANTAS engineering insiders that there is a significant (he did not elaborate) problem.

As I mentioned, the FAA is really the determinant of when the 787 will return to flight and be certified. At the time of the fire, I estimate that Boeing had about two and half to three months of flight testing to be completed. If this still holds then it's possible that the 787s could return to flight testing in about 6 months with delivery about 3 months later. This puts a projected first delivery date to about mid to late third quarter of 2011. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Boeing will announce a new first delivery date of mid fourth quarter 2011. They will need some time to digest the data from the flight testing that has been done; produce the required engineering changes and incorporate the changes into the 787s that have been built.

Geoffrey Thomas: Boeing reportedly set to announce another 787 delay

Despite another delay, I expect that Boeing will continue to produce 787s and get them ready for delivery. As had been mentioned in the past postings, Boeing has significant rework to do on the 787s that have been built. Another delay will give them some breathing room to get that rework done. They will have more rework to do after the test flight fleet returns to the air and other issues are revealed that would require changes to be made on the production 787s. The continued production of 787 that are undelivered presents Boeing with another problem: where to put park all those 787s. Already Boeing is squeezing them into spots near the Future of Flight Museum as well as the the apron in front of the Boeing assembly building and has set aside spots near the Everett ATC Tower to park even more 787s. But if there is another delay where can Boeing park all those new built 787s especially as they attempt to ramp up production next year? Mind you that the Boeing Everett ramp will be full of 777, 747-8, and 787s. There is the potential of additional stalls to the south of the Boeing plant, as well as the ATS Hangar which Boeing is renting currently. Boeing can possibly rent the ramp space in front of the ATS hangar. Boeing can also use building 40-23 which was used for the static testing of the 787 fuselage. That fuselage is due to be removed as is the test equipment that was installed for the static testing.

According to sources, Boeing is looking into increasing the 777 production rate to 8 to 10 per month from the current 5.5 per month. Boeing would utilize 40-23 for additional 777 assembly space. However, with the current issues in the 787 program, that space might be better served, in the short run, to store production 787 as well as an enclosed space to do rework on the 787s. Hopefully many of the questions will be answered in the next few days.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What will drive another 787 delivery delay?

Morgan Stanley equity analyst, Heidi Wood, raised the spectre of additional delays to delivering the 787 to customers by trying to read between the lines of Boeing's latest statement that they released on Nov. 16th.

In my opinion, trying to read into something that is or isn't in a press release does smack of grasping at anything for information.

Is there a possibility of a delay?

Yes, a very real one. The fire was serious and had exposed some shortcomings in some of the systems that distribute electrical power through out the aircraft. No one knows what the problem is...yet. How long to fix it will be determined by the root cause of the fire, the fixes that needed to be implemented, and how to make sure that the insulation does not catch fire under any circumstance.

All that can be rectified but the driver of any delays won't be how long it'll take to fix any issues but the driver will be the FAA and any demands they place on Boeing to demonstrate that the power panels are safe and that there is very limited chance of fire in the aft bay and if there is a fire, that it is contained and doesn't damage any other vital systems. The other factor that Boeing will need to demonstrate (or re-demonstrate) is that the redundancies work as advertised. Boeing seemed to have been saying this yesterday though Heidi Woods was casting doubt about that in her research note.

When will the 787 return to flight? Only god and the FAA knows but we have to wait to hear the final results of the investigation before any educated judgement is rendered by those outside of the 787 program and the FAA.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ZA002 News - ZA001 and ZA005 to fly back to Boeing Field

Boeing released a statement this morning updating the media on the fire on board ZA002 and giving some immediate plans. First off, the two 787s that are not at Boeing Field, ZA001 and ZA004 will be flown back to Boeing Field. Currently ZA001 is at Rapid City, SD where it was being re-fueled for a return to Boeing Field when the fire took place. Boeing elected to ground the airplane after the incident. ZA005 has been at Victorville, CA. for a few weeks undertaking NAMS (nautical air mile testing). It too will be flown back to Boeing Field today. Boeing cleared the flights with the FAA and no testing will be undertaken on these ferry flights to Seattle. The other 787s are already at Boeing Field except for ZA002 which is being repaired and ZA003 which is at Everett for ground tests.

On ZA002, Boeing has completed its inspection but not its investigation. They've collected all the data and have begun repairs to the aircraft. There was a some structural damage which Boeing says will be repaired using standard repair techniques that they have developed for the composites on the 787. The repair team will also replace the insulation and the failed power module.

Boeing has not yet established a timeline to complete the repairs or for when test flights will resume. They say they are getting closer to a root cause of the fire but have not yet shared this knowledge.

Boeing said the entire incident lasted only 90 seconds and the fire lasted 30 seconds. Boeing also said that the redundancies allowed the airplane to conclude the flight in a configuration that would have enabled it to fly to a diversion airport if the airplane was flying a typical revenue flight. The meaning of that statement is that the airplane systems worked as advertised (other than the failed power panel) and the safety systems and redundancies made sure that the airplane concluded the flight safely. This would have been the case if the airplane was over the middle of the Atlantic at 40,000 feet.

A local Seattle TV news station said that the pilots didn't declare an emergency until AFTER the 787 had landed in Laredo. It had been widely assumed that the emergency was declared while the airplane was on final approach into the airport.

King 5: Pilots Declared Fire Emergency after 787 landed

In light of the fire, the FAA has stopped certification activities except for ground tests. How long this suspension will last will depend on the nature of the incident and Boeing's ability to demonstrate that they have a fix and that it will not occur again.

FAA Hits Brakes on 787 Certification

Guy Norris has a posting on today news:

Guy Norris: 787 will today - briefly

Here's Boeing's statement:

Two Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Return to Seattle; Laredo Investigation Continues

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- While the investigation into the incident onboard 787 Dreamliner ZA002 continues, Boeing has established a plan to fly two other aircraft, ZA001 and ZA005, back to Seattle from Rapid City, S.D., and Victorville, Calif. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed and approved the plans.

ZA001 was undergoing refueling in South Dakota when the incident on ZA002 occurred and the company decided to forgo additional flights. ZA005 was on remote deployment for testing in California.

The flights follow a series of inspections on the airplanes' aft electronics bays. No testing will be performed on the flights.

The team investigating the incident in Laredo has developed a detailed understanding of the ZA002 incident, though more work remains to complete the investigation. In addition to the information already released about the incident, data show that:

The total duration of the incident was less than 90 seconds.
The fire lasted less than 30 seconds.
The airplane concluded the event in a configuration that could have been sustained for the time required to return to an airport suitable for landing from any point in a typical 787 mission profile.

The team in Texas has completed inspection of ZA002 and has begun to
prepare to install a new power panel and new insulation material. The team also is repairing minor structural damage that occurred during the event. This damage will be addressed with standard repair techniques in the airplane structural repair manual. The team is currently evaluating the timeline for completion of the repair work.

The incident on ZA002 demonstrated many aspects of the safety and redundancy in the 787 design, which ensure that if events such as these occur, the airplane can continue safe flight and landing.

No decision has been reached on when flight testing of the 787 will resume. Before
that decision can be made, we must complete the investigation and assess whether any design changes are necessary. Until that time, Boeing cannot comment on the potential impact of this incident on the overall program schedule.

787 production continues

Meanwhile there will be line move in the 787 final assembly building today with the 26th 787 (ZA231) for Air India moving to the paint hangar at Everett.
The first 787 for Air India (ZA230) made it's first appearance being towed to the Boeing flightline at Everett. Flightblogger posted photos of the aircraft being towed to the flightline from the paint hangar. The line move makes room for the 30th 787 (ZA234) to start final assembly. The next 787 to enter final assembly after that will be ZA117 for ANA on Dec. 1st...two weeks from now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Boeing releases more information on ZA002

Boeing came out what now seems like daily updates on their investigation into the fire about ZA002. Boeing is saying that the P100 panel that apparently started the fire in the electronics bay by setting an insulation blanket on fire. Boeing has removed the faulty unit and is sending a replacement unit to be installed in Laredo.

Boeing also states that while there is significant damage to the P100 unit, there doesn't seem to be much damage to the surrounding area or systems. Their investigation is still preliminary so there may be changes in this assessment as the investigation progresses. Boeing stated that they did find molten metal (aluminum according to Flightblogger) near the P100 panel but this was to be expected in light of the fire that took place. Boeing still stresses that their investigation of the area around the P100 panel including the composite fuselage is not completed yet and will take a few more days. They are also trying to assess repair time and plans as well as plans to return the test flight fleet to the air.

Here is Boeing's press release:

Updated Boeing Statement on 787 Dreamliner ZA002 Incident

EVERETT, Wash., November 11, 2010 - Boeing continues to investigate Monday's incident on ZA002. We have determined that a failure in the P100 panel led to a fire
involving an insulation blanket. The insulation self-extinguished once the fault in the P100 panel cleared. The P100 panel on ZA002 has been removed and a
replacement unit is being shipped to Laredo. The insulation material near the
unit also has been removed.

Damage to the ZA002 P100 panel is significant. Initial inspections, however, do not show extensive damage to the surrounding structure or other systems. We have not completed our inspections of that area of the airplane.

The P100 panel is one of several power panels in the aft electronics bay. It receives power from the left engine and distributes it to an array of systems. In the event of a failure of the P100 panel, back-up power sources - including power from the right engine, the Ram Air Turbine, the auxiliary power unit or the battery - are designed to automatically engage to ensure that those systems needed for continued safe operation of the airplane are powered. The backup systems engaged during the incident and the crew retained positive control of the airplane at all times and had the information it needed to perform a safe landing.

Molten metal has been observed near the P100 panel, which is not unexpected in the presence of high heat. The presence of this material does not reveal anything meaningful to the investigation.

Inspection of the surrounding area will take several days and is ongoing. It is too early to determine if there is significant damage to any structure or adjacent systems.

As part of our investigation, we will conduct a detailed inspection of the panel and insulation material to determine if they enhance our understanding of the incident.
We continue to evaluate data to understand this incident. At the same time, we are working through a repair plan. In addition, we are determining the appropriate steps required to return the rest of the flight test fleet to flying status.

Boeing will continue to provide updates as new understanding is gained.

Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times has a very detailed report up as well. In it he says that he has access to Boeing photos showing the damage to the P100 unit including damage to the contactors within the unit which close and open circuits when power is needed. Dominic also said that the insulation blanket which caught fire was placed between the P100 unit and the composite fuselage skin. Once the pilots cut power to P100 (which is on the left side of the airplane), the P200 unit which is on the right side of the airplane provided power as did the aircraft's APU (auxiliary power unit) and RAT. This is why the aircraft was able to land safely with power.

You can read Dominic's article below:

Dominic Gates: Boeing photos show damage to key 787 electrical components

Additionally, Flightblogger has posted his update as well:

Flightblogger: A Closer Look: 787 fire investigation points to P100 power panel

I've added Guy Norris' report that he put out this morning:

Guy Norris: 787 - new detail of fire and damage on ZA002

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boeing Updates ZA002 incident investigation

Boeing just put out a press release that give us our first view as to what MAY have been the problem. Boeing is saying that a power control panel in the aft electronics bay will need to be replaced. This doesn't necessarily mean that the power control panel was the cause of the fire. That determination will have to wait until the investigative team has completed it's analysis of the data from ZA002. Boeing is indicating that this may take a few days. It's safe to assume that the 787 test fleet will continue to be on the ground until that time at the very least....perhaps longer if modifications have to be made in some of the systems that have found to cause the fire.

Boeing obviously will not say anything about possible impact to the schedule until the investigation is complete and fixes have been identified. Ground testing will continue on the airplanes while the investigation is on going.

Also Flightblogger has had made several updates with regards to ZA002. You can read them here:

Flightblogger: Flash: 787 test fleet grounded after electrical fire

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Update on Boeing 787 Dreamliner ZA002 Incident

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- During approach to Laredo,Texas, yesterday, airplane ZA002 lost primary electrical power as a result of an onboard electrical fire. Backup systems, including the deployment of the Ram Air Turbine (RAT), functioned as expected and allowed the crew to complete a safe landing. The cause of the fire is still under investigation by Boeing.

The pilots executed a safe landing and at all times had positive control of the airplane and all of the information necessary to perform that safe landing.

Initial inspection appears to indicate that a power control panel in the aft electronics bay will need to be replaced on ZA002. We are inspecting the power panel and surrounding area near that panel to determine if other repairs will be necessary.

We have retrieved flight data from the airplane and are analyzing it in Seattle. This process will take several days. We are committed to finding the cause quickly but will not rush the technical team in its efforts.

The team was conducting monitoring of the Nitrogen Generation System at the time of the incident but there is no reason to suspect that the monitoring or earlier testing of that system had anything to do with the incident.

Consistent with our internal processes, until we better understand the cause of the incident on ZA002, we have decided to postpone flight test activities on other airplanes. Ground test activities will be conducted until flight test resumes.

Likewise, we cannot determine the impact of this event on the overall program schedule until we have worked our way through the data. Teams have been working through the night and will continue to work until analysis is complete and a path forward is determined.

ZA002 news

There is not too much to add though unsurprisingly Boeing has decided to suspend 787 test flights until they find the root cause of thee fire and implement a fix. How long and what impact that will have is unknown but data from the airplane has been sent to Seattle for analysis.

I anticipate that they would be able to narrow down the cause of the fire in a fairly short amount of time but we shall see. Flightblogger posted that all test flights are off until Thursday at the earliest and the test flight airplanes will conduct ground tests. Guy Norris also put up a detailed post about the disposition of the test flight fleet and what ground tests they will be conducting. Lastly, Dominic Gates has an excellent recap of yesterday's events.

Boeing was in midst of aggressively test flying the 787s over the past month and was on track to post high utilization rate of the test flight fleet as well as posting higher flight test hours month over month. This incident no doubt slows them down.

Boeing spokesperson, Lori Gunter sent out the following release, what is interesting is that the aircraft did not lose primary flight display:

In regards to requests for additional information regarding the incident on
ZA002 in Laredo, TX, today, Boeing can confirm the following:

* ZA002 departed from Yuma, AZ, bound for Laredo, TX. - 42 crew members were
on board the airplane in support of the flight test program.
* One minor injury occurred during the evacuation. That crew member has since cleared medical approval and has left the medical facilities.
* During the flight from Yuma, the crew was conducting a test to monitor the efficiency of the Nitrogen Generation System. - During the event, the crew was collecting system performance data and no additional testing was being performed.
* Contrary to some reports, the pilot did not lose primary flight displays.
* Data from the airplane is being transported from Texas to Seattle so that our experts can understand what happened prior to, during and after the event. This will take some time to accomplish. Until that is completed, we cannot offer further information regarding the event.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Update: ZA002 had fire in aft electric bay

So what do we know:

ZA002 was flying a test flight to test the NGS system on a 6 plus hour flight that was to terminate at Valley Airport in Harlingen, Tx. As the flight was preparing to land a fire broke out in the aft electronics bay under the passenger cabin. The fire had knocked out the auto throttle and the primary flight displays. The Ram Air Turbine (RAT) was then deployed to provide power to control the aircraft. After the aircraft landed in Laredo, the pilot deployed the emergency slides and the 30-40 people who were on board evacuated with 1 possible slightly injured.

Obviously it is too early to tell what had happened and what equipment was the cause of the fire as well as how long it will take to repair the aircraft and get it back in to the test flight program. Obviously, it is also too early to tell what impact this will have on the flight test program though I do anticipate that it will have an impact. It is worth noting that 787s were still flying after this incident though it is possible that Boeing did not know the severity of the problem until well after the test flights had landed. ZA001 flew from Boeing Field to Rapid City, SD and was to continue with more test flights but did not. ZA004 also flew out of Boeing Field and was to fly to Rapid City but was diverted back to Boeing Field. ZA005 was flying over the Pacific on what was to be a 10 - 11 hour NAMS test flight. It landed about 4 hours ago well short of that goal. Clearly it seems that Boeing may be grounding, temporarily, the 787 test flight fleet until they know what happened and what corrective measures have to be taken. It is known if the fire originated in flight test equipment or on one of the 787 systems. Hamilton Sundstrand is assisting Boeing with the investigation. My feeling it may have originated in one of the 787s systems. However, Guy Norris of Aviation Week is saying that only ZA002 is being taken out of service

A major concern was the fire knocked out power to the flight displays and the auto throttle. Because the aircraft is an all electric architecture instead of the traditional hydraulic/pneumatic systems this incident may raise concerns.

I will update this story as I learn more.

I've linked to the other usual suspects who are reporting on this story:

Flightblogger: Smoke in ZA002's cabin forces evacuation

Guy Norris: 787 grounded after smoke in cabin

Dominic Gates: Electrical fire forces emergency landing of 787 test plane

Aubrey Cohen: Boeing 787 lands with smoke in cabin, crew evacuates

Breaking: ZA002 experiences smoke in main cabin

During a test flight this afternoon, the 2nd test 787, ZA002 experienced smoke conditions in the main cabin as it was getting ready to land at Valley Airport in South Texas. The aircraft immediately diverted to Laredo, Texas where the crew and engineers on board evacuated the aircraft. Boeing is currently investigating the incident.

The incident does not seem to have stopped the other 787 test flight activities but that doesn't mean they won't be affected at a later date.

More on this as it develops.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rolls Royce Issues statement on the Trent 900 incident

Below is RR's statement regarding the Trent 900 failure on QF32. The main takeaway is that the failure on flight 32 is unrelated to the failure of the Trent 1000 in early August.

Trent 900 statement
Monday, 8 November 2010

Rolls-Royce has made progress in understanding the cause of the engine failure on the Trent 900 powered A380 Qantas flight QF32 on 4 November 2010. It is now clear this incident is specific to the Trent 900 engine.

As a result, a series of checks and inspections has been agreed with Airbus, with operators of the Trent 900 powered A380 and with the airworthiness authorities. These are being progressively completed which is allowing a resumption of operation of aircraft in full compliance with all safety standards. We are working in close cooperation with Airbus, our customers and the authorities, and as always safety remains our highest priority.

We can be certain that the separate Trent 1000 event which occurred in August 2010 on a test bed in Derby is unconnected. This incident happened during a development programme with an engine operating outside normal parameters. We understand the cause and a solution has been implemented.

The Trent 900 incident is the first of its kind to occur on a large civil Rolls-Royce engine since 1994. Since then Rolls-Royce has accumulated 142 million hours of flight on Trent and RB211 engines.

We will provide a further update with our interim management statement on 12 November 2010.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

787 and 747-8I news - November 7, 2010

Last week was an eventful week for the 787 program with the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine issue raising questions about the design of the Trent 1000 and if there is a larger problem that could affect first delivery.

The August 2nd failure of the Trent 1000 engine on a test stand in Derby was a major factor of the latest 787 delay no matter what anyone else would tell you. Last weeks incident on QF32 with the Trent 900 engine highlighted the potential human cost of an uncontained engine failure. Part of the engine had damaged the wing of the A380 and if the pieces had penetrated the wing fuel tank, it would have most certainly lead to the loss of the aircraft and all on board. The potential lost of QF32 would have been the third worst air disaster ever given the number of souls aboard the airplane.

This incident also underscored Boeing's decision to delay the 787 delivery to ANA (to be equipped with the Trent 1000) to mid February. Now Rolls says they have a hardware and software fix but in light of what happened last week, Rolls Royce has a lot of explaining and soul searching to do. They have to convince the airline industry and the airframe manufacturers that their products are safe. Recent events have thrown much light on their products. Rolls Royce is hurting and I do direct you this this article HERE to get a real good read out on the potential problems that the uncontained failures of the Trent 1000 and Trent 900 engines have for Rolls. Finally, Boeing is not going to be helped by Pratt and Whitney's lawsuit against Rolls Royce for patent infringements. The lawsuits aims to prevent Rolls Royce from delivering any Trent 1000 engines to Boeing and the 787 program. If this goes through Boeing and its customers who ordered the Trent's will be in a very tough spot.

Boeing still has issues with the 787 that they have to grapple with out the Rolls Royce issue and that issue is the travelled work and all the rework that the assembled 787s have to have before they are delivered to customers. Boeing is still mum on the number of 787s that they will deliver next year but there has been press reports that there would be 10 month delay to some deliveries, notably to Air India and Korean Air. Boeing has come out forcefully in the light of those press reports to say that their isn't an further delay beyond those that they have already announced and that the media that originated the newest story was using information that Boeing had released two months ago. The verdict: Boeing is still sticking with the mid 1st quarter 2011 for first delivery but beyond that Boeing has not made any announcement of the pace of deliveries after the first airplane is in ANA's hands.

Air India has come out and said that they are expecting their first 787 in June 2011 which is in line with past reports. Still we will still have to see how the pace of rework goes after the completion of the flight test program in order to better gauge the delivery schedule of the 787s.

Meanwhile, Flightblogger reported the resumption of 787 part deliveries into Everett with the arrival of the wing set for the 31st 787 (ZA117 for ANA). There was a line move late last week where LN 25 (ZA230 for Air India) was moved to the paint hangar allowing ZA233 (also for Air India) to be loaded into the final body join spot.

Flightblogger: Boeing restarts 787 deliveries with arrival of wings for Airplane 31

Flight test activities continued this past weekend with the Boeing test flight fleet logging about 60 flight test hours over the last three days (Nov. 5 - Nov. 7). Some of the milestones include the 787/Trent 1000 fleet surpassing 2,000 flight test hours, the 6 test flight airplanes surpassing 75% of the required test flight hours (3,100 total), ZA001 surpassing 700 flight test hours flown, the test flight fleet surpassing 2,300 flight test hours, the 787/GE test flight fleet surpassing 50% of the required test flight hours, and the 750th test flight of a 787.

Also ZA006 undertook a marketing mission to Amsterdam and Paris in an effort to sell AF/KLM the 787. During this time, ZA006 was parked next to an Air France A380 overnight at Charles De Gaulle in Paris which would have made for a great photo.

747-8I, RC001 makes progress.

Boeing's other major passenger aircraft that's in development also is making progress as the first 747-8I achieved power on for the first time. Power on allows some testing of the aircraft's systems in the assembly hangar while assembly is on going and is an important milestone. Boeing plans a four month test flight program and first delivery in about a year from now. The reason for the short flight test program is that much of the testing has already or will be completed by the 747-8F.

Below is Boeing Press Release as well as video of the power on of RC001:

Boeing Achieves Power On for New 747-8 Intercontinental

EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 5, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has completed the power on sequence for the new 747-8 Intercontinental. This milestone enables the program to begin functional tests on the airplane.

"This is a critical step in the assembly process for the new 747-8 Intercontinental," said Elizabeth Lund, 747 deputy program manager, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The airplane's systems are now live. This milestone is a reflection of the focus and hard work of our engineers, mechanics and suppliers."

Power on is a complex series of tasks that methodically energize and activate the airplane's systems. In this critical stage of the assembly process, the electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems are brought on line.

Mechanics connected the 747-8 to an external power cart to energize the flight-deck display and maintenance systems. The electricity coursing through the airplane's 133 miles (214 km) of wire will be as high as 105 kilovoltampere (kVa).

The program also activated the airplane's hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Pressurized to 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi), the hydraulics power the flight control surfaces, landing gear, brakes and steering systems. The 160 psi applied to the pneumatic system enables the airplane to operate the environmental control systems and the leading-edge flaps.

"We are very methodical in ensuring the integrity of the airplane's systems," said Todd Zarfos, vice president of 747 engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "This accomplishment is a key milestone in validating the design, installation and functionality of the electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems."

A video that gives you an inside look at the power on sequence is available at

The program is expected to complete assembly of the 747-8 Intercontinental in the first quarter of 2011. The airplane is scheduled to enter service in late 2011 following the flight test program.

The 747-8, which includes the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 747-8 Freighter, was launched in November 2005. Boeing has 109 orders for the 747-8 -- 33 for the 747-8 Intercontinental and 76 for the 747-8 Freighter. The first 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled to deliver in late 2011.

The new 747-8 Intercontinental offers the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane, while providing enhanced environmental performance. The 747-8 provides new revenue opportunities that allow airlines to maximize profits. Eighteen feet longer than the 747-400, the 747-8 has 51 additional seats to accommodate 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration, and it also offers 26 percent more cargo volume.
Boeing Video