Thursday, December 1, 2011

787 update 12/1/2011

With all the excitement over yesterday's Boeing-IAM contract extension, there wa also news about the 787 that has come out and I would like to recap here.

787-GEnx certification

Boeing is still about 95% complete with 787-GEnx-1B certification testing according to Jim Albaugh who spoke at a Credit Suisse conference in NY yesterday. Certification testing using ZA005 and ZA006 are more or less complete according to Flightblogger, in a post on Nov. 29th. Additionally, he reported that ZA006 is getting some test equipement removed pior to be sent to San Antonio for refurbishment into a customer aircraft. If the change incorporation being done on production aircraft is any indication then this work on ZA006 is likely to take quite a bit of time to complete.

Boeing has done some of the F&R testing on the test aircraft but has to do the rest on a production standard aircraft. The 787 that has been tasked for this work is L/N 35 which is a 787 to be delivered to Air India. According to Flightblogger, first flight of this airplane has been delayed to around the middle of December owing to the slower pace of change incorporation on the 787s. Because of the delay in getting the needed aircraft, delivery of the first GEnx-1B 787 has slipped to January of 2012. The first one will be delivered to Japan Airlines, probably L/N 23, ZA177 which just returned form San Antonio after undergoing change incorporation work. Just yesterday the GEnx-1B engines received it ETOPS 330 certification however both the Trent and GEnx engines in combination with the 787 airframe won't be certified for ETOPS 330 until a fix to the fuel monitoring software is implemented, tested and certified by the FAA.

ZA004 - Trent Package "B" testing

According to Guy Norris, Boeing has completed certification testing for the Trent 1000 package "B" improvements for the 787. This will allow Boeing to finally start to deliver 787 with the new Trents which bring the specific fuel consumption to within 1% of the original promised specs. Boeing had undertaken this testing using ZA004. Over the last few weeks this airplane has been flown several times a day in order to finish up all the requirements. Once the FAA has received and approved all the test data, Boeing should be able to start delivering 787s with this engine. L/N 31 will be the first 787 to be delivered with the package "B" Trent 1000 engines.

Future deliveries

The pace of deliveries is obviously being didtaced by the pace of change incorporation which is excrutiatingly slow right now. The pace has already pushed the GEnx 787 deliveries out to January as well as deliveries to Trent 1000 customers further to the right. ANA was supposed to have received 5 787 in will only receive two (L/N 31 and L/N 41). Both these airplanes are Trent 1000 package "B" airplanes. There are two other ANA 787s that have their engines attached and being prepped for delivery. These are L/N 9 (ZA102, JA804A) which was just pulled out to the Everett fuel dock and L/N 42 (ZA105, JA808A) which is still in front of the EMC.

These airplanes are not due to be delivered until after January 1st but there are now more 787s appearing on the flightline in preparation for delivery which is a good sign but on the flip side most of the aircraft that are out on the flightline are very early build airplanes that need extensive re-work done before they can be delivered to customer. Just to get these 11 airplanes (L/N 7 to L/N 19) done would probably take a good 2 years. Most of the deliveries will come from the late builds, particularly L/N 30 on up.

Production and Ramp Up

Jim Albaugh gave a nice update on the status of 787 production and ramp up. Currently they are are still at producing at 2.5 787 per month with the aim of ramping to 3.5 by around March or April and then to 5 by the end of 2012. Boeing is still maintaining it guidance of 10 787s per month by the end of 2013.

Albaugh had very good things to report about the North Charleston plant. The first aircraft from that line should deliver before June of 2012. The plant is capable of producing 2.5 787 per month right now. Boeing has now opened up the delivery center as well as the 787 interiors fabrication plant to supply bins, partitions, crew rest areas, etc. for the Charleston built 787s.

Test Flight Fleet

Now that test flights are nearing the end (at least for the 787-8), Boeing is starting to make plans for the first three airplanes built. ZA004-ZA006 will be refurbished and sold to customers (BBJ). Boeing has flown ZA001, the first 787, to Palmdale Airport where it will be in storage until they figure out which museum to house it in. Likely candidates are the Museum of Flight in Seattle or the Future of Flight museum in Everett though I wouldn't count out the NASM (National Air and Space Museum) in Virginia out. ZA002 is going to be in Charleston, SC for some time for testing purposes but its long term fate is unclear. ZA003 is due to start a 6 month tour of the 787 on December 5th. First stop is China an other Asian and African countries whose airlines have bought the 787. After the tour is completed the aircraft's long term fate is also undecided. No doubt there would be some testing to be done, particularly on engine and airframe improvements to lower weight and increase fuel efficiency and reduce the noise footprint. This is why ZA002 and ZA003 will probably held by Boeing for the foreseeable future to serve as test beds for these improvements.


HK Expat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HK Expat said...

With the construction of LN70 fast approaching, do we know the customer allocations beyond that frame. Your spreadsheet stops there.

Sarah's Parents said...

That was a wonderful article. Thanks for the time you took to research all of this.

Cedarglen said...

Great, comprehensive post. I appreciate the updates on the utilization (and fate) of ZA001, 002 and 003. In a way, it is a shame that Boeing has to 'eat' the cost of these airplanes, rather than deliver them into commercial service, albeit at at reduced price. As has been noted here and elsewhere, the lack of parts documentation and other issues with these fine birds preclude their ever moving beyond an experimental certificate. I think Boeing expected this from day one. The 787 is not only a new aircraft, but also a new KIND of aircraft and not all of the R&D product will make it to the sales floor. Now... If they can just get over the re-work hump for the early line aircraft. I have to believe that they opened the production line a bit too soon.