Friday, December 16, 2011

More on Boeing 787 delivery schedule

In the wake of the news coming out of Japan of the delay to the 3rd Dreamliner delivery more news has since come out courtesy of Dominic Gates at the Seattle Times and Susanna Ray at Bloomberg News.

Dominic Gates reported yesterday evening that the reason of the delay for the third 787 to ANA is wiring issues that the FAA found during a standard inspection as well as non functioning APUs in three 787s. Because the APU didn't start, tests that were to be done with the APU running had to be put off until the units were replaced. Boeing is calling these issues minor yet they were severe enough to force ANA to revise its international plans that were supposed to start this month.

It is unknown if this is a problem that is endemic through the 787s that are sitting in Everett or it is just a one off problem. Still the upshot is that the L/N will not be delivered until middle of next week and the other three airplanes that are set to be delivered have yet to fly on their pre-delivery tests with Boeing and ANA pilots. The delay which this site reported back in mid November forced ANA to postpone the start of international 787 service to next month.

Due to the pressure to deliver these four airplanes (L/N 9, L/N 31, L/N 41, L/N 42) Boeing is having some of it workers work through the holiday season which is traditionally a week off for Boeing employees. Undoubtedly they will probably be well compensated for their time. There are only three of these airplanes on the Boeing flightline though the fourth, L/N 42, is outside in front of EMC so it might be pulled out to the flightline very soon. Interestingly according to the Bloomberg article, the APU and wire issues aren't pacing the schedule. The question then is, what is pacing the delivery schedule, at least in the near term. Both articles say that Boeing feels that the issues are minor.

As of yet L/N 41 and L/N 42 have not flown and L/N 9 while it has flown still has not begun the process of Boeing and customer check flights. L/N 31 has had quite a few flights but has not flown since Wednesday, Dec. 14th. I'll be watching to see if there is any further movement on these airplanes but certainly, if the other three airplanes have not flown by middle of next week then Boeing's hopes of delivering at least four 787 this month will be dashed.

Lastly, in a related note, L/N 35 which to perform the ETOPs/F&R testing for the GEnx-1B on a 787 production frame still has not made its first flight. IF Boeing hopes to deliver the GEnx powered 787 next month they need to start flight tests on this airplane very soon or the certification and start of deliveries can slide to the right again.

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