Sunday, October 31, 2010

787 and 747-8I news

Well let's start with something new. Below is a video of the first 747-8I, RC001, being rolled to the 747 final assembly slant position in Everett. This aircraft should be rolled out late this year or very early next year with first flight occurring during the 1st quarter of 2011. The 747-8I's flight test program will consist of two aircraft and should take only 4 months as the 747-8F is certifying much of the 747-8 aircraft. First delivery is still targeted for end of 2011 to a Kuwaiti sheikh and to Lufthansa in early 2012.

Video Courtesy of the Boeing Company

On to the 787...The flight test program has increased its pace in the last two weeks, with flying almost 230 hours. The GE powered 787 have been getting a real work out of late as well with both ZA005 and ZA006 flying longer duration missions. While these hours have increased the hours per flight they are not ETOPs flights. It is expected that ETOPs flights won't begin until January.

Boeing, I believe is pretty comfortable with the pace of flight testing at this point that they are going to send ZA006 on a marketing trip to Paris and Amsterdam in order to woo Air France/KLM for their potential 100 aircraft order. The company is expected to chose between the 787 and the A350 though the 787 offering the GEnx may have an advantage. Flightblogger has details about this story in his latest post:

Flightblogger: Boeing appears set to woo Air France/KLM with 787 visit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Flightblogger talks 787 production and horizontal stabilizers

Now that Alenia has effectively shut down 787 production for another 2 weeks....flightblogger revealed in a new post that the Italian company actually may have shut it down for much longer. The reasoning.....there hasn't been a 787 line move since October 3. There were to have been two more line moves in the month of October whch did not occur. The reason is the needed rework of the horizontal tail assemblies that Alenia is responsible for. Boeing has a whole slew of people in Italy trying to get them back on track but it seems that Alenia's troubles probably run very deep.

With all the issues surrounding the horizontal stabilizer, Boeing chose to mocve the line which left ZA231 without a the tailplane. It was being reworked when the line moved and is now installed on airplane 27 (ZA178).

This has thrown 787 final assembly into a tailspin (pun intended) as the horizontal stabs for airplanes 26 to 29 are being reworked as well as those that are already on the fully assembled production airplanes. Stabilizers meant for certain palnes are being installed on others. This won't be a problem as it is a common part, of course, but it does illustrate what the problems at Alenia has caused downstream in the production process.

Here's how things are laid out in building 40-26 in terms of HTP-airframe

Airplane 25 --> HTP #25
Airplane 26 --> HTP #29
Airplane 27 --> HTP #26
Airplane 28 --> HTP #27
Airplane 29 --> HTP #28
Airplane 30 --> HTP #30 --- this is where Boeing will be back to a normal assembly routine.

As evidenced by the number of 787s on the Boeing flightline where the HTP has been disassembled, it is evident that the problem is quite serious with many of them requiring rework prior to delivery. Boeing has set up a tool to allow easy access to the areas of the HTP that need rework but it's clear that the first 23 production airplanes will have quite a bit of work ahead of them before they are delivered next year. Flightblogger's article is a great read and does raise some flags with respect to Alenia. My sense is that if there is way Boeing can extract it self from Alenia it will. They have already indicated that the HTP for the 787-9 will probably come back in house and I think this is a certainty.

Flightblogger: A Closer Look: Inside the 787 delivery hold and horizontal stabilizer issues

Monday, October 25, 2010

787 production update

UPDATE: Dominic Gates has article saying that the latest assembly pause is due to issxues at Alenia, again. No wonder James Albaugh is bringing 787-9 HTP production back in house. Read his article:

Dominic Gates: Boeing calls two week stop on 787 section deliveries to Everett

This past weekend I referred readers to Matt Cawby's web site which showed two 787 fuselage parts being loaded on the the LCF. Boeing has told me that due to high winds in the area, the parts were placed inside the aircraft so that they were out of the elements.

This must indicate that the back of 40-26 is pretty full with 787 parts since these sections could not be stored in the Boeing facilities at Everett.

Boeing has also said that they will tell 787 suppliers that they will have a slight pause in 787 parts shipments into Everett. The pause will average about 2 weeks depending on the supplier. Both suppliers as well as workers on the final assembly line will continue working on the aircraft as the pause only effects shipments into Everett. Here's Boeing's statement:

With regards to the sections being loaded onto the LCF:

We loaded those pieces back on because forecasters here predicted heavy winds and we didn’t want to have them sitting outside in those conditions. Nothing more.

With regards to the shipment pause:

We will formally notify partners in the days ahead that we are going to have a
slight (it’s different partner by partner but on average two weeks) pause in
shipments. As we said in summer, this is one way we will manage the production
system. Partners are continuing to work during this shipment pause as is the
final assembly team here in Everett.

Delta reaffirms 787 order

In an SEC filing, Delta Airlines reaffirm their intention to take delivery of 18 787-8s that the airline inherited in its merger with Northwest Airlines. NWA was the first US airline to order the 787 in 2004. That order was originally supposed to be delivered between 2008 and 2010. However, Delta will now take delivery between 2020 and 2022...ten years from now. No word on the fate of the 50 options that the carrier also holds.

United Airlines will be the first US carrier to receive the airplane sometime next summer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dreamliner 4 circuit around the country and potential 787 production woes resurfacing?

ZA004 undertook a very long 13+ hour test flight that took it around the country yesterday to test the 787s to test...of all things... the fuel gauge of the aircraft. According to Flightblogger, the test (which I initially thought was an ETOPs flight) was to see how the Fuel Quantity Indication System. The test added a large amount of flight test time to the 787/RR test flight fleet and bought them closer to the 2,430 flight hours needed to certify the 787/Trent 1000 engine combination and allow for deliveries to start to ANA. The Trent 1000 powered 787 test flight fleet has accumulated well over 1,900 flight test hours thus far and the total 787 flight test hours has exceeded 2,100 hours leaving 1,000 flight test hours needed to complete the test flight program.

Flightblogger: 787 goes cross country to check the gas gauge

While the test flight program continues to make progress, there are signs of production troubles on the 787 final assembly line. ZA233, the 29th 787s to be assembled was initially supposed to start final assembly on Oct. 4th. It was pushed back to late October, then early November and now I got news that it won't start assembly until around November 17th...over 6 weeks late. To add to the mystery, Matt Cawby got video of a rear and forward 787 fuselage sections being loaded back on to the 747 LCF in Everett instead of being offloaded. Now the LCF did not depart Everett so my guess is that they might be being stored on board the 747 LCF. I am hoping to hear from Boeing about any production pauses on the 787 line and what reloading of the fuselage sections on the LCF may mean.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

787 now in final stages of flight testing

Boeing Chief, Jim McNerney said during the third quarter earnings conference call that the 787 flight testing is in the final stages. Flight testing has picked up in the last week as the 787s have racked up just under 2,100 flight hours and the number of hours needed to certify the Trent 1000 powered version of the 787 is down to under 550. Another important milestone on the 787's road to certification is completion of the required number of simulated flight cycles on the fatigue test airframe (ZY998) for first delivery. Boeing will continue to fatigues test the 787 airframe for the next 3 years but they needed to get a certain number of cycles completed before they delivered the first airplane to ANA. All this work was done on the ground at Everett. Boeing has reiterated its intention to delivery the 787 in mid 1st quarter 2011. McNerney also said that Rolls Royce has a hardware and software fix to prevent the recurrence of the uncontained engine failure that took place in Derby, UK in early August.

Still ahead for the 787 is the all important ETOPS type certification where the specific engine-airframe must be approved for ETOPS flights mainly across the Atlantic and Pacific. Later each individual carrier must get it ETOPS operational certificate. This testing is expected to get underway around January.

In the meantime Boeing continues production of the 787s at Everett. McNerney said that supplier shipments are picking up. Boeing has had to slow down production twice this year in order to allow the supply chain to catch up and reduce the travelled work coming into Everett. Boeing is expected to start final assembly on ZA233 (LN 29) a 787 for Air India.

Lastly, Boeing is talking about bringing production of the horizontal stabilizers for the 787-9 back in house according to Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times. Boeing is still finding workmanship issues coming out of Alenia. According to the article, Boeing has found more issues on the test flight airplanes as well as a few of the production airplanes. A couple of the test flight airframes have been fixed and they're working through the others. I wonder if this was the reason the 787s didn't fly as much between mid September and mid October? You can read Dominic's article here:

Dominic Gates: Boeing considers building 787-9 horizontal tails in-house

Finally, Flightglobal has an article out saying that Boeing believes that the majority of 787 orders will be for the 787-9 model. This is supported by many of the order conversions from the 787-8 to the 787-9 by airlines. You read the article here:

Flightglobal: Bigger 787 variant to boost order share: Boeing

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ten Months In...

The 787 test flight program reached milestone yesterday with 2,000 flight test hours accumulated in the 10 month old flight test program. The milestone was reached when ZA002 flew a 20 minutes test flight to Moses Lake Airport. However, through the last half of September and the first half of October there has been a very noticeable slowdown in the flight test program. In period from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14th, Boeing posted 362.5 flight hours on the 787 spread across 121 flights. From Sept. 15th to Oct. 14th, the 787s flew only 165 hours on 71 sorties. That's a reduction of over 54%. With ZA004 being out a month starting in November, Boeing will have to depend on the remaining three airplanes sustain the flight test program.

Boeing still has over 1,100 test flight hours to complete. The 787-Trent 1000 flight test fleet achieve another milestone by reaching 75% of the required (2,430) flight test hours. That means that the Trent 1000 flight test fleet has a little over 600 flight test hours to complete certification. Boeing says it has completed over 65% of the required testing conditions thus far.

Next month Boeing plans to change out the engines on ZA004 from the current Trent 1000 with package "A" to the package "B" powerplants. The change out should take about a month including ground testing and this airplane will be back in the air sometime in December. It does look like that the first few Trent powered 787s delivered to ANA will be the package A versions though I'm not sure when Rolls Royce will start delivering the package "B" to Boeing.

In the meantime Boeing has flown the Trent 1000 aircraft fairly aggressively in the last few days but I do still believe that they still have a long road ahead of them despite being almost three quarters of the way through the flight test program. If Boeing can fly the four test airplanes about six and a half hours a day for the next three months, they can achieve certification of the Trent powered 787s a month before first delivery. The GE powered airplanes are over 27% done with their test flight program but currently both airplanes are in lay ups and have not flown since early October. I'm still trying to find out when those airplanes are planned to return to the air.

While the test flight program continues on, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times reported on the 787 that are piling up outside on Everett's flight line:

Dominic Gates: Boeing 787s stack up at Paine Field awaiting FAA approval

ZA102, the first production airplane to fly is now slated to have it's first flight around November 24th as the aircraft continues its final fitting out before being rolled out, presumably early next month.

Boeing Photo

Lastly, the 747-8I program achieved a milestone itself when the first airplane entered final body join. This aircraft should roll out at the end of this year or early next year with the flight test program due to start in early 2011.

Guy Norris has a blog post out that also details the 747-8F test flight program thus far:

Guy Norris: 747-8I Comes Together

Here's Boeing's Press Release:

Boeing Joins Fuselage Sections for First 747-8 Intercontinental

EVERETT, Wash., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) moved closer this week toward completing assembly of the first 747-8 Intercontinental as mechanics in Everett, Wash., loaded the forward and aft fuselage sections to join with the wing and center section.

The 747-8 fuselage is 250 feet 2 inches (76.3 meters) long, which is 18 feet 4 inches (5.6 meters) longer than the 747-400. The stretch provides space for 51 additional seats to accommodate 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration and offers 26 percent more cargo volume.

"Final body join is an important milestone for the 747 program," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Airplane Programs in Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It is a major step toward completing the structural integration and building out our all-new interior. We now have the first real look at the size and distinctive shape of the 747-8 Intercontinental. This is going to be a superb airplane for our customers both from an aesthetic and a performance perspective."

The 747-8 is the new high-capacity 747 that will give airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. The airplane also features a 787 Dreamliner-inspired interior that will offer passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort.

The 747 program has orders for 109 747-8 Freighter and Intercontinental airplanes. Thirty-three of those are for the 747-8 Intercontinental, with orders coming from Lufthansa, Korean Air and eight VIP customers. The first 747-8 Intercontinental delivery is scheduled for late 2011 to a VIP customer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

787 keeps movin' along

As the time to first delivery draws closer, Boeing is ramping up both production as well as the pace of flight testing.

Flight Testing

The 787 flight test fleet is closing on 2000 flight hours flown, they can potentially break through that mark today. The Rolls Royce powered 787s got a real work out on Oct. 12th flying almost 24 flight hours during the day and breaking through the 1800 flight hour mark for the RR/787 flight test combination. Hopefully this signals a push to accumulate the remaining 35% flight test requirements needed to certify the Rolls powered 787s. Boeing has completed almost 75% of the require flight test hours needed to certify the Trent 1000 powered 787s so they are getting close.

While the first four 787s are being pushed, ZA005 is at Everett for some standard inspections as well as fuel transfer tests. ZA006 remains at Boeing Field going through the post first flight lay up where additional flight test instrumentation is being installed. I haven't heard when those two airplanes will be flying again. Currently about 27% of the GEnx/787 flight test hours have been flown.

ZA102 is now scheduled to fly around November 24th instead of November 9th though that date may change. This will be the first flight of a production standard 787 with a full customer interior. Both ZA101 and ZA102 have its Trent 1000 engines. ZA101 will undertake ground testing though I'm not sure if it has a customer interior as well.

Next month ZA004 will down for about a month while it gets new Trent 1000 engines with the package "B" improvements meant to bring the engines to within 1% of the promised SFC (specific fuel consumption) that Rolls Royce promised to its customers.


As the flight test wring out the 787 for delivery, Boeing is slowly ramping up 787 production. Currently ZA230 will moved out of position 4 in building 40-26 and the line should pulse on October 15th but the next airplane ZA233 (LN 29) won't be loaded into position 1 until October 26th. I'm still trying to find out why the 11 day delay. ZA234 (LN 30, a 787 for Air India) is due to start final assembly 9 days later. This indicates that Boeing is attempting a 9 to 10 day run with each airframe is in each of the 4 assembly positions 9 to 10 day. This translates to a final assembly run for each 787 of about 36 to 40 days in building 40-26. At that rate, Boeing should be at ZA236 (LN 35, the 35th 787 being built is for Air India) by the end of the year though they will have 30 787s built and out on the flightline.

Speaking of the flightline, the parking spots for airplanes at Everett are getting full. So full that Boeing is now parking airplanes in a small ramp area in fron of the Future of Flight Museum. According to Matt Cawby, Boeing has leased out space at Everett near the air control tower as well asto the south of the asembly halls in order to store built but undelivered 787s.

Lastly, Flightblogger took a trip to 787 suppliers in Asia and has put up an excellent post of the 787 suppliers in Korea with some great photos. It is a great read.

Flightblogger: From Busan to Boeing: 787s Asian Supply Chain Part 1

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

787 Production Update

Over the next few months Boeing will start final assembly on 787s for Qatar, Korean, United/Continental and Polish Lot Airways. Of the first 57 production 787s to come off the assembly line, ANA will get the most...15 of which 10 are already assembled. This will be followed by 8 for Japan Airlines, 8 for Air India, 5 for United/Continental, 4 for Ethiopian and 3 for China Southern.

Qatar Airways will see it's first 787 assembled by ZA460 (LN 57 or the 57th 787 off the line). Because of the noise tha this airline has created surrounding the delays to their order, Qatar will get 4 787s in quick succession. They will receive the 57th, 58th, 60th and 62nd 787 to be built. Qatar is planning for introduction of these airplanes in 2011. A 787 for LOT will be sandwiched between the two Qatar 787s.

You can see the list below:

Boeing releases video of 787 landing performance

Boeing Video

Boeing released a real nice video of the 787 landing tests that it had conducted over the past month including a portion where ZA001 is dragging its tail along the runway to determine the VMO (Velocity Minimum Unstuck) as well as water landing tests and cross wind landing tests conducted by ZA002 in Iceland.

Pilot Mike Carricker give a great narration of what's going on with these landing performance tests.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Boeing Statement on ZA006 First Flight

Boeing Photo

Boeing released a statement announcing the first flight of the final test 787. However the first test flight was cut short due to a cooling fluid issue according to a Tweet by Flightblogger. The press release doesn't mention the flight being cut short. It mentions the flight lasting a little over an hour as well as reviews the 787 testing to date. Over 65% of the test conditions needed to certify the Rolls Royce powered 787 have been completed according to Boeing. Boeing has also completed 15 cycles on the fatigue test air frame (ZY998) and need to complete 10,000 by the time first delivery is made to ANA in mid February. Boeing is also looking to increase the production of 787s. The 28th 787 (ZA232) to be built just entered final assembly and the next one, ZA233, will enter final assembly 10 days later on Oct. 14th. This could mean that Boeing is attempting a 3/month production rate. Because of the production 787 already built, Boeing has started to store 787 in an area called Kilo North which is a newly constructed ramp area just south of the Future of flight Museum. Three 787s (ZA150, ZA151, and ZA176) were moved to this area over the weekend.

Flightblogger also has a couple of posting up with regards to today's flight:

Flightblogger: Sixth and final 787 test aircraft completes abbreviated test flight

Flightblogger: Liquid cooling squawk tied to abbreviated ZA006 first flight
Sixth Boeing 787 Makes First Flight, Testing Program Making Good

EVERETT, Wash., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The final Boeing (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner to join the flight test fleet made its first flight today from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The airplane, ZA006, is the second 787 equipped with General Electric GEnx engines to fly.

Captains Christine Walsh and Bill Roberson were at the controls during the 1 hour and 4 minute flight. The airplane landed at Boeing Field at 12:45 p.m. (Pacific time).

"It's great to have our last flight test airplane join the fleet," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "We have been focused on completing the testing required for certification of the 787 with Rolls-Royce engines, because that is the first model we deliver. A great deal of the testing that we've done also applies to the 787s with GE engines and won't need to be repeated," said Fancher.

There is, however, a smaller portion of testing that is unique to the engine/airframe combination. In general, this portion includes noise testing, extreme weather operations, function and reliability, and extended operations. In addition, testing to verify the airplane handles the same regardless of engine type and that the systems work on both models is required.

Some additional flight tests will be performed on one of the production airplanes, the ninth 787 to be built, but it is not considered a full-time member of the flight test fleet.

787 Testing Progress Report

In addition to achieving first flight of ZA006, the Boeing test team has completed a number of flight test milestones in recent weeks.

Boeing wrapped up a series of natural and artificial icing tests, meeting all requirements with no changes required. Pilots reported that the airplane continues to handle well even in the presence of ice.

Flight loads survey testing, which demonstrates the pressure distribution on the airplane structure throughout the phases of flight in a variety of configurations, also has been completed. The team conducted this testing on ZA004 primarily at the airport at Victorville, Calif. Analysis of this testing continues.

A dramatic series of tests that stress the airplane's brakes, called maximum brake energy testing, was completed in late September at Edwards Air Force Base, also in California. ZA001 conducted this testing as well as a series of extreme takeoff and landing conditions including minimum takeoff speed testing. Earlier in the month, ZA001 completed wet runway testing at Roswell, NM.

ZA003 flew to Glasgow, Mont., to complete community noise testing. All results were within expectations.

As a result of these tests and others, all takeoff performance and handling characteristics testing is complete for the initial version of the 787. Additional testing will be required for 787s equipped with GE engines.

The 787 flight test program has logged more than 1,900 hours over 620 flights and completed more than 65 percent of the flight test conditions for 787s with Rolls-Royce engines.

Equally important to the testing required in the air is the ground testing required to certify a new airplane. Boeing has completed well over 4,000 hours of ground testing on the same airplanes that are in the flight test program.

In addition, fatigue testing has started at a test rig in Everett. Fifteen flights have been simulated. Federal regulations require Boeing to conduct twice as many flight cycles as any airplane in revenue service. Boeing plans to have completed 10,000 flight cycles prior to first delivery.

"We continue to be extremely satisfied with the performance of the 787 in its testing operations," said Fancher. "This airplane handles wonderfully and will be a valuable tool for our customers."

How long ZA006 will be out because of the issue that cropped up during flight is unknown at this time.

Dreamliner 6 flies...for an hour

ZA006 the sixth and final test flight 787 finally has flown after a lengthy delay due to numerous unspecified issues that plagued the aircraft in the month leading up to today flight. The airplane took off at 11:43 AM local time and flew for exactly one hour before diverting to Boeing Field at 12:43 PM. According to, the airplane was supposed to fly for about 2 hours before landing at Moses Lake and then take off and fly direct to Boeing Field. Boeing later said to the Seattle PI (Aubrey Cohen) that maintenance issues forced the flight to be terminated early. Apparently the gremlins that has plagued its first flight are still around.

At this point in the test flight program the 787 should be mature enough that there wouldn't be a need for extensive flight control checks or testing especially if ZA006 has flown with modification arising from issues discovered during the test flight program to date.

This airplane is minimally instrumented and will undertake ETOPS testing as well as HIRF (High Intensity Radiated Field) Testing, and electromagnetic effects testing.

In the meantime, Flightblogger and Guy Norris each have put up posting about ZA006 as well as some flight testing updates. ZA001 and ZA002 should be back in the air tomorrow and ZA004 should be flying again sometime this weekend.

Flightblogger: Better Know a Dreamliner - Part Six - ZA006

Guy Norris: 787 - show time for ZA006

Production has restarted on the 787 final assembly line in Everett with ZA232 (LN 28) moving into the first position to be assembled.

In other 787 news, the 787-9 seems to be getting popular amongst current 787 customers. ANA and know Vietnam Airlines are now customers for the larger 787 mainly because of the better projected performance of this version over the 787-8. Vietnam Airlines converted its 16 787-8 into the 787-9. ANA converted 15 of it 55 787-8 into the 787-9. This version of the 787 is due to be delivered to Air New Zealand at the end of 2013.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

787s move around Paine and ZA006 first flight on 10/4

Boeing repositioned a few 787s around Paine Field this past weekend with two RAM and one JAL 787 moved to a new parking site known as Kilo North. There are still a couple of 787s stored in front of Boeing main assembly building as well including a JAL 787 and one for LAN. Of the 10 787s built for ANA three are in the Hangar being readied for delivery ZA100, ZA101 ad ZA102) while 6 more are out on the flightline and one more on the flightline tent getting its side of body modifications done.
Matt Cawby got some great photographic documentation on these moves that occured yesterday:

Matt Cawby's Oct. 2 Blog Post

There should be a line move tomorrow where the 11th 787 for ANA (ZA116) and the 28th 787 (ZA232) will be moved into position on the final assembly line at Everett. Boeing is resuming final assembly after a pause to allow suppliers to catch up and to put the supply chain in a position to meet the production ramp up that is to occur around this time. Boeing hopes to be putting out a little less than 3 787s a month starting with ZA232.

Even more important is tomorrow, the final test 787, ZA006, will have its first flight. No flight time has been mentioned but in the past Boeing has flown the 787 on its first flight at around 10AM PST (1PM EST). The aircraft will be flown to Boeing Field where it will conduct a few days of ground tests before resuming flight testing. I hope to have more on ZA006s first flight tomorrow.