Sunday, January 31, 2010

787 News

Boeing's production of 787 continues as the flight testing program is well underway. Boeing just started final assembly on the 16th airplane destined for LAN. LN 16 is also known as ZA531 (ZA530 is assigned to LN 10).

The current production and aircraft disposition list is below as well as at the bottom of the blog at all times:

Lastly, Flightblogger is reporting that ZA002 should be flying again around now and that ZA001 should be back in the air around Feb. 2, 2010 (Groundhog Day). Finally, ZY998, the fatigue test air frame is finally being moved to building 40-41 where it will go through 3 years of test to see how the air frame will fair over a life time of service.

Flightblogger: Pre-flight and layup: A 787 and 747 Round Up

747-8 still hasn't moved. At last report Boeing wanted to rerun some gauntlet tests. No word on how the retesting has gone or when taxi tests will begin.

Friday, January 29, 2010

End of the month 787 Update

This morning Boeing launched a 787 flight test dedicated web site so that anyone can keep tabs on the 787 flight test progress. It includes of all things the cumulative flight test hours for the flight test fleet as well as for each individual airplane.

Hey Boeing, who did you get that idea from?

The hours they've calculated are from internal flight times they've calculated and not based on the hours that are posted on (you can link to the flightaware database by clicking on the individual aircraft. The number of flight hours they're calculating is about 3 hours more than what I have posted. I don't know the reason for the discrepancy.

The web site is very extensive and has a lot of information including the flight test roles for each of the 6 test airplanes, video and news reports from the flight test team and pilots, as well as the usual multimedia suspects one comes to expect. Boeing needs to be applauded for providing a greater degree of transparency at this critical stage of the 787 program.

Boeing 787 Flight Test Site

There are a few other tidbits coming out the 787 program through Matt Cawby. He has video of ZA004 gear swing test as well as reporting that the wings for LN 17 was flown in. This may mean that LN 12 has exited the final assembly line. Matt also reported that Boeing conducted VHF radio checks with ZA003. Lastly, Matt also reports that the third 747-8F (and third flight test aircraft) was moved to the Boeing flightline on Wednesday though it still is unpainted.

Matt Cawby's January 28th Posting

Thursday, January 28, 2010

President Obama: No Bucks and no Buck Rodgers

NASA Photos
Yesterday, A NASA contractor put the last segment of a 345 foot long tower meant to support the Ares 1 rocket and Orion spacecraft. It took about 9 to 10 months to build up the launch platform and tower though there is still much work to be left like adding all the ground support equipment (GSE), fueling and venting lines, swing arms and the Crew Access Arm. The schedule would have been to finalize the design of the GSE and umbilical arms by the end of this year as well as put the construction and installation of this equipment out for the bid. Construction and testing in 2011 and installation in 2012. Verification and validation will take place would have taken place in the 2012-2013 time frame and would have been ready for Ares I soon after that. NASA has built a tower that now has no purpose. In the last 5 years NASA has spent over $9 billion on the Constellation program and many of the visible milestones that have been accomplished include the following:
  • Successful design and launch of the Ares 1-X test rocket

  • Successful test firing of the 5 segment first stage for the Ares I with another test slated for later this year
  • Successful testing of elements for the Orion launch escape tower
  • NASA was about two months from performing the first pad abort testing of the Orion launch escape tower
  • Start of construction of a high fidelity Orion ground test article
  • Successful and timely construction of the mobile launcher (ML) for the Ares I rocket
It took 9 months to build the mobile launcher main structure. Now, I wonder how long it will take to bring it all down? What a way to spend $9 billion and get almost nothing for that money.

That's because President Obama has decided that America has no place in space. In reports that are coming out in the media, Obama is going to increase NASA budget but only for commercial transportation of astronauts and cargo to the ISS. No bucks, no Buck Rodgers as they said in "The Right Stuff." Another quote from that same movie is also very prophetic: "Funding makes this bird go up." Well funding for NASA isn't enough to get a model rocket off a launch stand. Our country, the only country to land humans on the moon will not be going back to the moon and instead we'll be putzing around in low Earth orbit if the President has anything to say about NASA direction. President Obama has diminished the very essence that makes this country great...the ability to overcome immense obstacles to achieve a great goal or accomplishment. Granted we've accomplished that goal over 40 years ago, but going back to the moon was going to be a stepping stone for our country to going further out into the Solar System.

Oh humans will go back to the moon and beyond. They just won't be Americans but more than likely Chinese, Russians, Indians and Europeans. To be clear, I wish those country's luck as they leave low Earth orbit and further human kinds knowledge of the cosmos. The US will be stuck in low Earth orbit in the International Space Station and that hurts.

Obama is giving NASA more money to have them spend it on companies that will get US astronauts only to the ISS and no further. Big effing deal, Mr. President. Why don't you just continue hitching rides on Russian Soyuz and save even more money? Oh right, we don't want to send any American jobs overseas. Forget that with the demise of the Shuttles and now Constellation program the US stands to lose more jobs than gain with the development of domestic commercial space transportation. And those jobs that will be lost are high paying tech jobs to boot!

The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel which is an independent safety arm of NASA recommended against switching to unproved commercial systems to transport astronauts into space and to continue with the Constellation program. Apparently, astronaut safety is not a priority to the Obama Administration as is the space program in general.

To be fair, some of this is not the fault of the current administration. President Bush told NASA to go to the moon but neither he nor Congress gave them the money necessary to do the job thus NASA was falling behind the effort to develop Orion and Ares according to the time line that they laid out. And truth be told, NASA has been virtually ignored since July, 1969. No one cared about going to the moon or Mars or doing anything else and NASA has been forced to do more with less since that time. Same story different time. Now a little glimmer of hope is that reaction to the President's proposal is almost all negative and much of the negative reaction is bi-partisan in nature.

At the end of the day, the administration says they want to inspire children to study math, engineering and the sciences. What better way to inspire kids to go into these subjects than having a robust and world leading human spaceflight program?

Just a few days ago, I took my two young children to see the IMAX movie, "Magnificent Desolation" which chronicles America's missions to the moon. There is a scene in this movie where children talk about wanting to go to the moon and explore the Solar System. Sadly, the closest these kids and others like them who dream of flying to other worlds in the Solar System is by watching documentaries and Hollywood movies. America's astronauts will be staying in low Earth orbit for the forseeable future.

Flightblogger: Boeing to start 737 and 777 Advance Product Development

Flightblogger is reporting that Boeing is launching two teams to study advance product development for both the 737 and 787.

The 737 Advance Product Development Team wil be headed by Mike Bair and the 777 Advanced Product Development Team will be headed by Lars Anderson.

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Leadership to Focus on Execution Today and Into the FutureRealignment of Leaders Brings Enhanced Functional Excellence, Future Growth

SEATTLE, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Albaugh today announced organizational changes intended to strengthen the company's focus on both performance and long-term strategy.

"Our priorities for 2010 and beyond are clear," Albaugh said. "We must execute on our 787 and 747-8 development programs; we must continue to perform on our ongoing production programs; and in this increasingly competitive world, we must develop a clear vision and roadmap for both the single-aisle and twin-aisle marketplaces.

In a move to strengthen processes, tools and functional excellence, Albaugh announced the following appointments:

Howard Chambers will lead a newly created Commercial Airplanes function, Program Management, which will focus on the development of program-management skills and drive enterprise-wide best practices throughout the organization. He most recently was vice president and deputy program manager, 787 Program.

  • Tim Copes was named vice president, Manufacturing and Quality, reporting to Ray Conner, vice president and general manager, Supply Chain Management and Operations. Copes most recently was president, Shared Services Group, for The Boeing Company.
  • John Cornish was named vice president, 787 Final Assembly, reporting to Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager, 787 Program. Cornish most recently led Commercial Airplanes' Manufacturing and Quality organization.
  • Mike Delaney was named vice president, Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He has extensive engineering experience with all five Commercial Airplanes programs, including spending the last two years as 787 chief project engineer.

Albaugh also announced moves intended to strengthen execution of ongoing Boeing programs, including:

  • Dan da Silva was named vice president, Freighter Conversions, reporting to Dennis Floyd, vice president, Technical Services, Commercial Aviation Services. Da Silva most recently was vice president, Sales and Marketing, Commercial Aviation Services.
  • Stan Deal was named vice president, Supplier Management, reporting to Ray Conner, vice president and general manager of Supply Chain Management and Operations. Deal replaces Steve Schaffer, who will retire April 1 after 36 years with the company. Deal most recently was vice president, Sales, Asia-Pacific for Commercial Airplanes.
  • Elizabeth Lund will become vice president and general manager, 767 Program, reporting to Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Airplane Programs. Lund most recently was vice president, Product Development.
  • Beverly Wyse was named vice president and general manager, 737 Program, also reporting to Shanahan. She replaces Mark Jenkins, who recently announced his retirement after 35 years at Boeing. Wyse most recently was vice president and general manager, 767 Program. She will continue to support the U.S. tanker program.

Albaugh made further executive changes intended to stimulate future growth, saying in a message to employee message Thursday, "Defining Boeing's airplane product strategy is critical to our future growth. We need a clear vision and roadmap for both our single-aisle and twin-aisle offerings for the future. Also, in the global environment in which we operate, we need a sharpened situational awareness of macro-economic and geopolitical realities".

  • Nicole Piasecki will lead a new BCA Business Development function responsible for the overall integration of strategic planning and analysis critical to maintaining Boeing's long-term competitiveness. She previously was president, Boeing Japan.
  • Mike Bair will lead a newly created Advanced 737 Product-Development team, which will be responsible for planning the future of Boeing's single-aisle offering. Bair most recently was vice president, Business Strategy and Marketing, Commercial Airplanes.
  • Lars Andersen will lead a new Advanced 777 Product-Development team, which will be responsible for Boeing's large twin-engine, twin-aisle airplane program. Andersen served in a number of key roles on the 777 program, culminating in seven years as vice president and program manager. He retired in 2007, and returns as a consultant.
  • Marlin Dailey, vice president, Sales, Commercial Airplanes, will lead an expanded team that also includes product marketing and market analysis.
  • John Wojick was named vice president, Sales, Asia Pacific, replacing Deal. Wojick most recently served as vice president, Sales, Leasing and Asset Management.

Additionally, Albaugh announced the following moves:

  • Mike Denton will become president, Boeing Japan, reporting to Boeing International President Shepherd Hill. Denton most recently was vice president, Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He will relocate to Tokyo.
  • Ray Conner, vice president and general manager, Supply Chain Management and Operations, now has full responsibility, accountability and authority for the entire Boeing Charleston site.

"I have learned a lot during my first five months at BCA," Albaugh said. "This is an outstanding team achieving great things together, and we ended 2009 with a strong quarter, exceeding our forecast for operating cash and profit. Today's announced changes are intended to make the BCA team even stronger to meet current challenges and stay focused on the opportunities ahead."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

787 Flight Testing Resumes

Flight testing on the 787 resumed with ZA002 taking off at 11:23AM local time from Everett Field. The aircraft should land in a couple hours at Boeing Field.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guy Norris: 787 and 747 Update - January 26, 2010

Guy Norris put up an update today of the status of the 787 and the 747-8. The 747-8F RC501 is going through another set of Primary Flight Control System checks and final weighing of the aircraft. Still no word on when taxi tests are set to begin and no safety of flight tests have begun yet.

On the 787 front, it is expected that ZA002 will return to the air tomorrow to check out the engines as well as to run test of the Oxygen Analysis System (OAS) which will measure the O2 content in the fuel tanks when the 787 fuel inerting system known as NGS (nitrogen generating system). The OAS is just a piece of test equipment and note part of the NGS. ZA002 should fly regular test missions after tomorrow.

A little programming note. At the bottom of this blog you can see two spreadsheets that I have put together tracking the flight test hours of the 787 as well as the production and aircraft disposition of the 787. I hope it's helpful and please do let me know of any information that would help keep the spreadsheets up to date.

Guy Norris' 787 and 747 update for January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

787 Aircraft Tracking

In an effort to help with what's happening with the 787 test fleet and production, I've put together a spreadsheet showing the current status and location of the 787s that are assembled or that are undergoing assembly. This is a work in progress so any suggestions are helpful and I'll try to incorporate them.

Please bookmark this page to see the current status of each airplane. The information will be updated as I get reliable intelligence.

787 and 747-8 First Flight Update

Flightblogger is reporting that ZA001 should return to the air by the end of the month (I presume he's talking about end of January). He also said that ZA002 should also be back in the air very shortly. This is on top of the news that I learnt this weekend that ZA004 should be in the air by mid Feb. and ZA003 should fly by the end of Feb. In 5 weeks there should be 4 787s flying around.

Also a source has told me that the 747-8F (RC501) should fly on Sunday, Jan. 31st or 6 days from now. I still have no word on how the gauntlet testing went on that airplane. Given that Boeing has an earnings conference call on for this Wednesday, I wouldn't be surprised if they make some sort of announcement around that time about the 747-8 first flight as well as more info on the 787 flight test program.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obama Admin Looks to Outsource US Human Spaceflight

It looks like NASA may not be in the Human Spaceflight business for long. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration will look to fund private human spaceflight to low Earth orbit and perhaps even beyond using a portion of NASA budget.

This decision will open a whole host of questions not the least of which will be how safe will these untried companies be for transporting US astronauts into orbit. The idea of sending US astronauts to the International Space Station and perhaps beyond took hold when Norm Augustine, the former CEO of Lockheed Martin, headed up a presidential commission to examine where US Human Spaceflight is headed. They released a report recommending that the US should fund private spaceflight companies to send US astronauts into low Earth orbit (mainly to the ISS). The Ares I rocket and the Orion Spacecraft which forms the backbone NASA planned Human Spaceflight future (to the ISS and the moon) continues to be underfunded and behind schedule thanks mainly to NASA's underfunding through the years.

If Congress goes along with this proposal this would make a huge reversal for an Agency that put the first man on the moon and has pioneered many first in both US Spaceflight and in Aviation. The idea of NASA not sending up astronauts is Earth shattering to say the least. Whether it actually comes to pass is a big question. I do see parts of the NASA hierarchy and Congress (particularly those with constituencies in Houston, Florida and California) lining up to ensure that NASA's budget is not used to fund private space travel but also these constituencies will aim to increase NASA Human Spaceflight budget to make sure that Human Spaceflight is driven by NASA. One other recommendation that the Augustine Commission made was that NASA pursue a new Heavy Lift rocket which would allow the US ton conduct missions to Mars and possibly the Asteroid Belt. This recommendation, it seems is not addressed in the President's budget proposal that should come out in February.

WSJ:White House Decides to Outsource NASA Work

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dreamliner 4 and Dreamliner 3

I just heard that Dreamliner 4 (ZA004) will fly around Feb. 14th and Dreamliner 3 (ZA003) will fly around the end of Feb.

Friday, January 22, 2010

As the 787 and 747 turns...a round up of 787 and 747 news

Boeing Photos

Well a few tid bits from these two programs came out from the usual suspects and the not so usual suspects.

First off, Bloomberg News had a nice article on the 787's battle of the bulge now that the maximum take off weight is 9.25 tons more than when the program first started. Now we do know that airplane 7, which is built, is the first block point aircraft to incorporate some weight saving measures and Boeing plans to have further weight savings starting with airplane 21. Boeing says that it still plans to meet all performance guarantees made to airlines for the 787 but the performance of the airplane won't be truly known until ZA004 with revised Trent 1000s engines is flying. In addition, Boeing plans to fly ZA100 and ZA102 with the revised engines will be flown to see how the production level aircraft will perform vs the test flight aircraft baseline performance.

Matt Cawby has been great with providing a visual record of the 787 progress in addition to written reports of what is happening at Everett. Last night he got some great video of LN 10 (ZA 103) coming out of the Boeing paint hangar. This airplane was painted white (a white tail) and was towed to the Boeing flight line to wait it's turn for the side of body modification. In addition Matt Cawby got some video of engine runs on ZA002 post fuel tank cleaning. Boeing is trying to get this airplane back in the air as soon as possible. Matt also broke the news of the start of 747-8 gauntlet testing and has further updates in his blog.

Guy Norris posted an update on both the 787 and 747. Currently ZA001 is in a plan lay up at Boeing Field to have more test flight equipment installed, calibrated and tested before continuing flight tests with flight test engineers aboard. ZA002 is continuing to have it's engines runs (see Matt Cawby's video) at Everett before rejoining the test program but I have to assume that all the test equipment testing and re-calibration work is complete and it should be a matter of days until this airplane is flying again for certification and TIA purposes. ZA004 is still getting ready for it's first flight but before then Boeing is conducting test of the emergency escape slides. Guy also has a nice update on the 747-8 confirming the the start of gauntlet testing and saying that taxi tests could occur late next week after safety of flight tests then followed by first flight around January 31st or February 1st.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, Matt Cawby got video of LN 10 (4th production 787) being pulled out of the Boeing paint hangar. This aircraft was painted all white. It was assumed, prior to yesterday that this airplane would be going to ANA and thus it should have been painted in the colors of ANA like the previous three production airplanes. But Flightblogger, Jon Ostrower, broke the news yesterday that this plane and airplane 16 will be delivered to LAN Airlines. Airplane 10 is probably painted as a white tail pending confirmation of the slot swap between ANA and LAN. Flightblogger revealed that the weight savings on airplanes 7 through 20 will come from changes in the wing skin but that after airplane 20 the 787 will have a higher MTOW (maximum take off weight). The increase in MTOW is on the order of about 9.25 tons which is what Bloomberg had reported.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Legends of Flight

When ZA001 took off on it's maiden flight some of you may have noticed a helicopter with a camera following really closely during its takeoff run in Everett. Well that camera being carried was an IMAX camera filming the 787 for an IMAX movie called "Legends of Flight."

This movie is due to be released around May 28th, 2010 and features other notable aircraft such as the A380, the Super Constellation, The Harrier and a Stearman Biplane. But the Star of the movie is the 787 and it follows the aircraft from design to assembly, to unveiling to more assembly to first flight.

There's a web site with several videos that you all haven't sen but gives us a sneak peek of what this movie will feature. It was filmed in IMAX 3D so it should be really spectacular, especially with the 787 take off run!

Legends of Flight

747-8 Gauntlet Testing Starts

UPDATE: Flightblogger tweeted that Boeing has confirmed the start of gauntlet testing on RC501 and it should last into th early hours of Saturday, January 23rd.

According to Matt Cawby, the 747-8 RC501 started gauntlet testing this morning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Boeing Saving 787 deals

Now that Boeing is well into flight testing the 787, they are are now turning their attention to saving deals with customers. We all know that Qatar Airways were very unhappy about the status of their order with Boeing and were threatening to cancel their order for the 787-8.

Boeing was able to save that deal and make them happy. Now comes word that Air India will receive their first 787 in the 2nd quarter of 2011 and Polish LOT has reconfirmed their order for 8 787s. They'll receive 5 planes in 2012 and one each the following three years.

All this comes at a price. Macquarie Capital analyst, Rob Stallard, estimates that concessions, penalty payments and discounts related to the late delivery of the 787 will cost Boeing about $5.1 billion. Some of these cost will take various forms. For example Boeing will be setting up an MRO (maintenance, repair & overhaul) facility in Nagpur, India that will service both the 787 and 777. Both aircraft are flown or ordered by both Air India and Jet Airways. LOT will get some 787 services such as IT, training and servicing for the 787 for free or at a reduced price.

The key to saving future deals and landing new 787 orders will be how well the 787 performs in flight tests (ZA004 will be conducting fuel burn tests which would be key to showing that the 787 meets the performance parameters that Boeing is promising) as well as how fast and efficiently Boeing can ramp up production to 10/month.

Customers need to be reassured that 1) the airplanes does what Boeing promise it can do and 2) they can get the airplane when Boeing promises it can deliver it to them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Some 747-8 news and some 787 news

Ok switching gears for a moment. Here's some 747 news. Flightblogger is reporting that the first 747-8 will start 40 hours of final gauntlet testing later this week. Final gauntlet tests the aircraft's systems and subsystems by making the airplane think that it is flying and seeing how those systems react.

First flight is probably going to occur sometime in February though I still don't have a firm date. That date, like the 787 first flight date before it, is dependent on the results of gauntlet testing and the need, if any, for any further testing.

Guy Norris reports that Boeing is working through a long list of EWAs (Engineering Work Authorizations) which is a long name for systems checks. Boeing has been working on a series of systems to make sure they're ready for final gauntlet. Guy says that given that final gauntlet hasn't started means that first flight won't occur until very late this month to middle of next month.

Matt Cawby got a couple of nice picture of the two 747-8F on the Boeing flightline. Curiously both are registered N747EX.

Lastly, in a somewhat related note, Flightblogger says in his post that the 4th LCF for the 787 program is due in Everett next month after taking it first flight (post conversion) on Friday, January 15. In a 787 related update, ZA004 will be testing the 787's evacuation slides this week and ZA001 will hopefully start further flight envelope expansion tests with further flutter and primary flight control system tests followed by high speed stability and control testing.

Randy Tinseth, in a blog posting on Friday, January 15, talks about the 787 achieving its Initial Airworthiness testing milestone and notes that the 787 fleet has accumulated 59 hours and 15 minutes of flight test time. Using flightware I've calculated 59 hours and 40 minutes of flight time which is close.

Flightblogger's Week Ahead Post

Guy Norris: 747-8 Flight Test Update

Matt Cawby: January 15 747-8 Update

Boeing Prepares 747-8 Flight Test Program

Randy's Journal: Initial Airworthiness

787 flight tests off to a promising start

Monday, January 18, 2010

Boeing Complete 787 Inital Airworthiness Testing

Ok I've been out for the last couple of days so I'm going to start out with old news. Boeing said, in a press release on Friday, January 15, 2010, that it has completed initial airworthiness tests on the 787. The main thrust of this announcement is two fold:
  1. The 787 is safe to fly with more than just the pilot and co-pilot aboard. Now Boeing's flight test engineers can also fly aboard to monitor tests

  2. The 787 flight envelope can now be expanded beyond the what has already been tested thus far.

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

News Release Issued: January 15, 2010 5:28 PM EST

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Achieves Initial Airworthiness Milestone

EVERETT, Wash., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has completed initial airworthiness testing on the 787 Dreamliner. This milestone will enable more crew members to take part in flights and will allow more airplanes to join the flight test program.

"This is an important step forward," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far. The airplane has been performing as we expected."

Since the first flight in mid-December, the program has conducted 15 flights, achieving several key accomplishments. Pilots have taken the airplane to an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and a speed of Mach 0.65. Nearly 60 hours of flying have been completed. Initial stall tests and other dynamic maneuvers have been run, as well as an extensive check-out of the airplane's systems. Six different pilots have been behind the controls of the 787.

In the weeks ahead, the team will continue to expand the flight envelope at which the 787 will operate to reach an altitude of more than 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) and a speed of Mach 0.85. Subsequent testing will push the airplane beyond expected operational conditions.

"The pilots have told me the results we are seeing in flight match their expectations and the simulations we've run. That's a real tribute to Boeing's expertise and the international team that helped develop and build the airplane," said Fancher.

Flight testing will continue in the months ahead. First delivery is planned for the fourth quarter of this year.
As always, the other follows of the 787 program weighed in with their postings and here is a rundown of this weekends commentary.

Flightblogger posted a great update reviewing the previous months' flight test progress as well as reviewing the status of the aircraft that have been built thus far. Here's a synopsis of the aircraft status:

ZA001/LN1 : At Boeing Field undergoing flight tests
ZA002/LN2: At Paine Field for aqueous tank wash
ZA003/LN3: At Paine Field undergoing preparations for its first flight in February
ZA004/LN4: At Paine Field fuel dock undergoing preparations for its first flight in February
ZA005/LN5: At Paine Field ATS Hangar undergoing side of body modifications
ZA006/LN6: At Paine Field ATS Hangar undergoing side of body modifications
ZA100/LN7: At Paine Field flightline awaiting side of body modifications
ZA101/LN8: At Paine Field flightline awaiting side of body modifications
ZA102/LN9: At Paine Field inside temporary hangar undergoing side of body modifications
ZA103/LN10: At Paine Field undergoing painting
ZA104/LN11: At Paine Field building 40-24
ZA105/LN12: At Paine Field undergoing final assembly
ZA115/LN13: At Paine Field undergoing final assembly
ZA116/LN14: At Paine Field undergoing final assembly
ZA117/LN15: At Paine Field undergoing final assembly

Parts for airplane 16 are starting to arrive into Everett. This airplane is the first to be assembled that will not require the side of body modifications. Lastly, Flightblogger reports that when parts for airplane 17 arrives it'll be for for Royal Air Maroc powered by GEnx engines.

787 Flight Test Update: Month One

Guy Norris had a nice synopsis of the 787 program on his blog as well. In it he said that ZA001 is going to be taking a breather while it undergoes checks. The airplane has not flown since January 14th.

Guy Norris: 787 completes initial airworthiness testing

Finally, Innovation Analysis Group, had a great Podcast featuring Jon Ostrower (Flightblogger) and Guy Norris.

IAG's 787 Update

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Guy Norris: ZA002 to fly very soon

UPDATE: ZA002 will be ferried from Boeing Field back to Everett this evening to have its fuel tanks washed out due to debris that was found in the fuel system during the lay up at Boeing Field. Both Flightblogger and Guy Norris are reporting this in their blogs and Boeing has filed a flight plan for the ferry flight. Guy Norris says that the aircraft should return to flight testing shortly but does represent a delay to the aircraft entering the flight test schedule. Flightblogger describes the debris as some cheese cloth and some particulate in the fuel tanks.

Guy Norris: Second 787 returning to flight - update

Flightblogger: Debris forces 2nd 787 back to Everett

In a blog posting today, Guy Norris says that ZA002 will be flying today but it looks like it'll be going back to Everett for more engineering work to troubleshoot an issue. It looks like it may not be rejoining the test fleet until the issue is resolved.

If true it seems that the issue is with this aircraft only and no other 787 as ZA001 is flying and has not experienced any significant issues. The issue may have to do with the landing gear problems the aircraft experienced on its first flight though that is speculation on my part. Guy says that Boeing has not responded to his inquiries.

Guy Norris: second aircraft ready to fly again?

Boeing Flight Test Head "Giddy" over 787 test flight results thus far

In an interview with Bloomberg reporter Susanna Ray, Boeing flight test manager Dennis O'Donoghue says that he's almost "giddy" over the way the 787 has performed. There have been minor issues, of course, such as a cracked windshield on ZA002 and an instrument panel replacement on ZA001.

Even UBS, which has a sell rating on Boeing, says that testing is "progressing better than expected so far." UBS estimates that the 787 has flown 53 hours thus far. On my spreadsheet, I have 53 hours and 54 minutes of flight time through Jan. 13th. Every test flight is only flown with the two pilots and no test flight engineers are on board due to the aircraft still being experimental and the need to fully test the flight envelope which should take about 2 to 3 months to accomplish. Boeing is planning to accomplish all testing and certification by the end of September (nine and a half months of testing). According to the article, 12 months is typical for a new commercial aircraft program but Richard Aboulafia says that smart money is for a testing and certification period of 15 to 18 months. This is something that would be disastrous of the 787 program if it comes to fruition.

O'Donoghue says that the 787 has "exceeded my expectations for where we'd be at this point."

He also says that the 747-8F should start flight tests in the next few weeks. Word is that first flight for this aircraft would take place in February.

Bloomberg: Boeing Test Chief Is "Giddy" After 787's First Month of Flight

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A380 continues to be Airbus' problem child

Ok forget the A400M problems (it's a military program anyway and I can cover that one in a separate post) but the A380 is going to be Airbus' problem child for years to come and, in my opinion, will never make a cent for EADS/Airbus.

The fact that Airbus could only deliver 10 vs the 12 (and that 12 was down from the 45 that Airbus had promised only a couple of years ago) that was promised in 2009 shows that this is a program in deep, deep trouble. Cost have increased and that only means that the breakeven amount for Airbus has only increased.

What is very interesting is that two analyst in the field, Saj Ahmad and Scott Hamilton, whose views sometimes run 180 degrees apart from each other are in agreement about the what Airbus should do with the A380. Both agree that the A380 program should be shut down because of the limited chance that Airbus would profit from the program. Saj Ahmad has advocated the A380 shut down for a few years now before the situation had worsen.
The major issue with the A380 is not the engineering or even the design but the huge flexibility that Airbus gave their customers in customizing the interiors of the A380. You have all these airlines with the A380 trying to out do each other in terms of on board passenger amenities and Airbus' salespeople basically said, in a nutshell, "no problem, we'll do that for you." This, in my opinion, went on without regards to the engineering and production issues that would be involved in producing each and every A380 and is now pacing the A380 production. When you have to hand wire and in some cases put in specialized equipment like plumbing for the showers on Emirates' A380s, the production is going to slow. Airbus is promising to deliver at least 20 A380s (they have to be deliberately ambiguous as the truly don't know how many they'll be able to produce) this, I think, is going to be a big reach for them. : A380 Continued Woes

Financial problems aren't the only gremlins in the A380 program. In the two years since the aircraft's entry into service, the aircraft is still experience technical issues that have grounded flights or forced them to turn around in mid flight. It was widely expected that given the two year delay in delivering the aircraft, that the A380 would be service ready with few technical glitches forcing the cancellation of flights.

But this doesn't seem to be the case as the A380 has been experiencing a large number of technical issues. This presents problems for the airlines as you can imagine, first off off loading over 500 passengers and finding hotels and meals for them. Finally getting other aircraft to get them to their destination.

Airbus Works to Stamp Out Superjumbo Bugs Haunting A380 Flights

At the end of the day even Thomas Enders, EADS CEO, has called the A380 program "a big disappointment."

What remains is can Airbus fix this program if at all? It is clear that EADS and possibly the EU will lose money on this program but if they can lessen the technical issues and get a few more orders, the financial pain may not hurt as much. What can be a really big problem is that if the A380 (and the A400M) continues to take resources away from the A350 XWB then that very important program will be delayed and will suffer the same issues that the 747-8 had suffered due to the reallocation of resources from the 747-8 to the 787. However, with two large programs in serious trouble, the effect on the A350 can be more severe than the 787's delays were on the 747-8.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Liz Matzelle's 787 Landing Video

Here's a coupld of nice videos by Liz Matzelle of ZA001 landing at Boeing Field on January 9. Special Thanks to Liz Matzelle!

787 Landing Cleaned Up 1/9/2010 from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

787 Landing via iPhone 1/9/2010 from Liz Matzelle on Vimeo.

787 Update - January 10, 2010

Yesterday another flight test 787 showed up on the Everett ramp being prepared for it's first flight. Sources tell me that this aircraft is ZA004 but a registration has not yet shown up on it's side.

ZA003 should show up very soon on the Everett ramp as well very soon to start it's preparations for first flight.

Both ZA003 and ZA004 are projected to have their first flights in the first week of February.

Additionally, Matt Cawby reported on his blog that the fatigue test air frame is very close to finishing its side of body modifications and should be moved to the fatigue test area around January 30th to start 3 years of fatigue testing. It will be moved out of the temporary hangar that is on the Boeing flight line.

Matt Cawby's January 9, 2010 Blog Update

Flightblogger got a great article up on the production challenges that the 787 still faces now that the aircraft has entered test flights. Thus far Boeing has completely assembled 1 complete 787s (LN 1 through LN 11) plus two test air frames (ZY997 and ZY998). Currently there are 4 aircraft undergoing final assembly (LN 12 through LN 15) and parts of LN 16 are just starting to arrive in Everett. Flightblogger is reporting that Boeing planes to start increasing production on the 787 round mid February.

Flightblogger: Dreamliner Production Challenges Lie Ahead

Finally through today, January 10, 2010, the 787 test fleet has accumulated over 45 and half hours test flight hours. Also today, Za001 flew the longest 787 test flight thus far at 5 hours and 48 minutes. You can track the 787 flight test hours by going to this spreadsheet here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

787 Flight Test Hours

Here's a spreadsheet of the 787 Flight Test Hours on a cumulative basis that I'm going to attempt to keep up to date on a daily basis. This is a page you may want to come back to so bookmark it. Please note that the times I get are from Flightaware but I try to verify the time aloft as best as I can. This may not be 100% accurate but I'll try my best to get it close. Suggestions are welcomed.

Boeing May Not Build the 787-3

Earlier today All Nippon Airways announced the conversion of their 787-3 order to the 787-8 version quite possibly ending any development of that version. Both JAL and ANA had ordered that version of the 787 (ANA ordered 30 while JAL had ordered 13).

This version was designed for highly traffic but short ranged routes which are routes that are both Japanese airlines fly. The aircraft was to carry 330 passengers on distances of less than 3,000 miles and would use the base 787-8 design but with winglets instead of the raked wingtip on both the -8 and -9 versions of the 787.

This conversion is ideal for Boeing for a few reasons:

1) Boeing doesn't lose 787 orders
2) By effectively killing the 787-3, Boeing saves substantial money on R&D for this aircraft. If there is substantial interest in this version in could resurrected later. By then both Boeing, it suppliers and engine makers and its customers would have had substantial data on the 787 performance to design an effective high volume, short range twin aisle in the 787.

Saj Ahmad wrote an excellent piece on the 787-3 order conversion and what it means.

All Nippon Airways Swaps 787 Orders

Flightblogger's posting on the 787-3

ANA closes the order book on the 787-3

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

747-8 # 2 shows up!

The second 747-8F s out on the Everett flightline. The unpainted aircraft was photographed by Matt Cawby next to RC501, the first 747-8.

Check out his pics here.

787 flight hours

Just did some quick calculations. Both ZA001 and ZA002 have spent 27 hours and 36 minutes in the air since flight testing had started on Dec. 15. This includes today's flight (1/6/2010). I'll try to keep this up to date as much as I can.

787 Round Up - January 6, 2010

Boeing Photo

Now that we're out of the Holiday's here's some news from around the 787 program.

First off I'm hearing that ZA004 should be out of building 40-24 very soon, perhaps even by tonight. ZA003 is still in the paint hangar which may indicate that ZA004 might fly before ZA003.

ZA001 continues to make almost daily flights and has, to date, racked up over 24 flight hours. ZA001 is flying to get Type Inspection Authorization ahead of certification testing that would be planned to start around mid February. The airworthiness test flights that are currently taking place are to ensure that all the systems perform as advertised as well as to make sure there aren't any flutter issues with the aircraft.

ZA002, which has not flown since Dec. 22, 2009, is undergoing post-flight checks as well as re-calibration and testing of several systems including the Common Core System according to Guy Norris of Aviation Week. There is still no word on when ZA002 will resume flying.

Now that Boeing has gotten the 787 flying, some attention will be turned to 787 production. Flightblogger has put up an article about the side of body modifications for the production 787s going forward. Currently the airplanes are assembled without the mods put in. Starting with airplane 16 (LN 16), which should be in Everett next month, the mods will be partially done at Boeing Charleston on Section 11 (center wing box) and at Everett on Section 12 (wing boxes) prior to the wing body join. This will continue through aircraft 49 (LN 49) and then with aircraft 50 there will be an incorporated redesign of the area that shown the lack of structural strength thus eliminating the need of the modifications that will be present in the first 49 787s.

Flightblogger: Boeing to incorporate Side of Body Mods into Production 787s

Flightblogger also published an interesting blog post comparing the takeoff noise footprint of the 787 vs the 777. Quite interesting and I do think the 787 does have a lower noise footprint vs the 77 but that should be expected. The 777 has a larger diameter engines vs the 787 but the 787 also has other noise reduction designs incorporated into the aircraft.

Flightblogger compares the sounds of 787 vs 777 at Takeoff

One none 787 note. The other airplane that Boeing is going to start test flying is the 747-8. The first one RC501 is still out on the Boeing flightline, presumably undergoing gauntlet testing. Last month I got word that first flight of this airplane is supposed to be on January 14th. While sources have recently told me that it's still the 14th they've also said that it's likely to slip, possibly to the 21st of January. Stay tuned for that one!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Where are the 787s in the New Year?

Future of Flight Photo

Now that the 787 flight test program is well underway, let's update where the fleet is.

LN1 (ZA001) Boeing Flight Test Center, Boeing Field - in flight test
LN2 (ZA002) Boeing Flight Test Center, Boeing Field - in flight test
LN 3 (ZA003) Boeing Paint Hangar, Paine Field (completed Side of Body modifications undergoing fuel tank aqueous wash and painting)
LN 4 (ZA004) Building 40-24, Paine Field (Completed Side of Body modifications, undergoing reassembly after fuel tank aqueous wash and painting)
LN 5 (ZA005) In ATS Hangar
LN 6 (ZA006) In ATS Hangar
LN 7 (ZA100) Boeing Everett Flightline awaiting side of body modification
LN 8 (ZA101) Boeing Everett Flightline awaiting side of body modification
LN 9 (ZA102) Boeing Everett Flightline awaiting side of body modification
LN 10 (ZA103) Building 40-24, Paine Field awaiting side of body modification
LN 11 (ZA104) Building 40-26, position 4 undergoing final assembly
LN 12 (ZA105) Building 40-26, position 3 undergoing final assembly
LN 13 (ZA115) Building 40-26, position 2 undergoing final assembly
LN 14 (ZA116) Building 40-26, position 1 undergoing final assembly
LN 15 (ZA117) Building 40-26, position 0 parts arriving in preparation for Final Assembly