Monday, December 31, 2012

787 Looking Back and Looking Forward: Part 1, 2012 Year in Review

2012 787 Year in Review

2012 was a year highs and lows for the 787 program.  While Boeing executed very well on it plan to increase production and work through the back log of airplanes sitting around Everett waiting to be modified and delivered, the program was bedeviled by teething problems while in customer service. 

The Bad
These problems were magnified by the media spotlight that this airplane had to contend with since 2007.  Every new squawk that appeared was magnified by the media despite the benign nature of most of these issues.  The most notable was the diversion of a scheduled United 787 flight from Houston to Newark, NJ.  The aircraft landed in New Orleans without incident as the pilot noticed irregular indications on the cockpit displays related to the electrical system.  United stated that the issue was traced to a starter generator supplied by Hamilton Sundstrand.

The Good
Despite all this many customers reported that they were very happy with the performance of the aircraft.  Air India was able to turn a money losing route (Delhi to Frankfurt) into a profitable one. ANA itself reported that the aircraft was more fuel efficient than they had expected.  As Boeing works out the excess weight of the aircraft in subsequent block numbers and GE & Rolls Royce brings their respective engines closer to promised fuel burn specs the 787-8 will only get better.

During 2012 Boeing had delivered 46 787s to 8 different customers.  7 of these customers received their first 787s this year.  The airlines that Boeing delivered these aircraft to represented every continent on the world except Antarctica (still waiting for Penguin Air to order, I guess).  Of the 46 airplanes delivered, 31 airplanes had to under go some amount of change incorporation through the Everett Modification Center while 15 were delivered straight from the the final assembly lines at Everett and Charleston. Over all Boeing has delivered 49 787s since deliveries began in September 2011.

I was expecting Boeing to deliver 50 787s this year and they fell short of this number quite narrowly by 4 airframes.  This is attributable to the failure of the Chinese and Air India to take delivery of 787s that are ready for service.

On the 787-9 development front, Boeing, at last report, had completed over 90% of the detailed engineering design work for this variant of the aircraft (this was accomplished back in September, 2012) and work started on the first major fuselage assemblies in the last couple of months.  Boeing is reporting that the aircraft is meeting weight expectations and does expect that they will deliver and aircraft that will come in well under the contractual weight made to customers.

Boeing has seemed to have executed well on its plan for 2012.  They had estimated that they would deliver between 35 and 43 787s in the year and they exceeded that delivery plan. 2013 will be a crucial year in terms of the production and delivery ramp up as well as the start of testing on Boeing newest 787 variant. However there are looming problems that can derail those plans in a significant way. These will be explored in the 787 2013 year look ahead.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Boeing delivers 6 787s in one day, exceed their 2012 high end estimate

Boeing gave a Christmas gift (an early one at that) to its shareholders by delivering 6 787s to 6 current operators of the aircraft.  Boeing delviered one each to ANA, Air India, Japan Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Qatar Airways and United Airlines. 

So far only one has flown away (Air India from Charleston) but the other 5 should leave over the next couple of days.  The following aircraft were delivered today:

ANA - ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A)
Air India - ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK)
Japan Airlines - ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J)
LOT Polish Airlines - ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB)
Qatar Airways - ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCK)
United Airlines - ZA287 (LN 52, N27903)

To date Boeing has delivered 46 787s overall, 43 in 2012 and 8 in December, 2012.  They may not be done as there is a possiblity they can deliver 1 or 2 more this month but more test flights would have to carried out by both Boeing and customer pilots of Air India would have to be prepared to accept one or even two more 787s that are waiting for them in Charleston.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

787 production update

As we approach the Holiday week, Boeing will be going into a slow down mode as is the custom around this time of the year.  There have been moves of late which I'll highlight here.

Boeing has moved out ZA274 (LN 88, SP-LRE) for LOT and ZA184 (LN 89, JA830J) for Japan Airlines.  They moved ZA513 (LN97, JA819A) for ANA into the body-wing join in 40-24 to start final assembly.  This is the last aircraft that will start final assembly in 2012. I expect it to be delivered sometime around middle to late February 2013.

Boeing also moved ZA232 (LN 28, VT-ANC) to the EMC to begin the change incorporation process for this airframe prior to delivery to Air India sometime next year.

I have also updated the tables to reflect the firing order for airplanes 116 to 130. The highlight of this list is ZB001 (LN126) which is the first 787-9 to go into final assembly.

There are a couple of things that caught my attention when I saw the list.  Boeing is assembling this aircraft on the 40-24 surge line and not on the main assembly line in 40-26.  Second, Boeing has diverted the final assembly of the 787-8s from 40-24 and is concentrating the production of customer aircraft in 40-26 and 88-03 in Charleston.  This is obviously in case they run into issues during final assembly of the first 787-9 that there aren't any bottlenecks in 787-8 production.  They are leaving themselves enough margin, it seems, to address issues with assembling the 787-9.  There will be a 3 airframe margin in front of the ZB001 and at least a 4 frame margin behind the aircraft as it makes it way through the final assembly stations in 40-24.

I don't have any information on follow on 787-9 frames just as yet but Boeing is believed to be planning for a 3 aircraft test fleet for the 787-9 with the test program lasting about 6 months.  I roughly estimate that ZB001 should enter the final assembly building around June 13, 2013.  Boeing has said the aircraft will start final assembly during the summer.  Since this is a brand new variant, I am assuming at least 6 weeks for final assembly and another 6 weeks for ground testing before first flight.  This would mean that this airplane can be flying around the middle of September, 2013.

On the firing order nothing stands out though we do get to see the first 787 for JetStar going through final assembly as well as the first 2 787s for Royal Brunei Airlines.  The Royal Brunei Order is listed as unidentified on Boeing's Order and Delivery website but they did order  787-8s with Trent-100 engines.  The airlines says that they are expecting to take delivery of the 1st 787 in early September 2013. This list as it stands now would cover deliveries through early September, 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2012

787 testing picking up as deliveries continue

787 flight activity picked up this week as the weather cleared long enough for Boeing to send up another 787 on its 1st flight.  Yesterday There were 4 787 flights including the B-1 flight for ZA285 (LN 45, N27901) for United Airlines.  There was supposed to be another test flight of ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ but it didn't occur.

As Boeing aggressively ramps up flight tests this month deliveries are also starting to take shape. This evening, Boeing delivered United's 4th 787 (ZA289, LN 55, N45905).  According to a press report by Bloomberg, Qatar is expecting to take delivery of two 787s on Dec.19th. I also expect Boeing to further deliveries of 787s to ANA (2), United (1)and JAL (1).  Wild card deliveries can be made to Air India (2) and possibly China Southern (that airplane still has to make its 2nd test flight).

Now all this continues despite the recent spat of glitches that the 787 has experienced.  The most notable one is the issue with the starter generator supplied by Hamilton Sundstrand.  A second 787, ZA460 (LN 57, A7-BCA) experienced the fault and landed while being delivered to Doha from Victorville.  The generator is being swapped out and the aircraft should enter service soon but the issue is troubling.  Akbar (U-Turn Al) Al-Baker again vociferously complained about the teething problems of the 787 to the media (after the first revenue flight of Qatar's 787 to London) but Qatar is still planning to take delivery of 2 787 next week.  Still Boeing along with Hamilton Sundstrand and the FAA are looking into the issues.  Jon Ostrower of the Wall Street Journal reported that 2 other 787s are other delivered 787 that belongs to United and an undelivered 787 for Qatar (one of the two that are to be delivered next week). The FAA said the issue doesn't appear to be safety of flight issue and aside for Air India reporting unspecified "electrical problems" no other 787 customers have come forth with electrical probles as of late.  Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times also has an article on the 787 electrical issue.

On the production front, expect things to slow down as Boeing enters its traditional Holiday break.  One aircraft (ZA513, LN 97, JA819A) for ANA will be loaded into the final assembly line and that will be the last until after New Year.

As of today, Boeing has delviered a total of 40 787 to 8 customers worldwide.  They've delivered 37 in 2012 and have to potential to deliver anywhere from 6 to 8 more airplanes this month.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Charleston still building 787s but not rolling them out

With Boeing's North Charleston plant building a 787 once every month, there is an expectation that we would be seeing more airplanes on the ramp at Charleston.  However it has been more than a month since Boeing rolled out an airplane from building 88-03.

The planes being worked on (currently) at this plant are earmarked for Air India and two of the three Chinese customers (Hainan and China Southern).  Given the issues surrounding these customers, it is not anticipated that deliveries will be made anytime soon or if they are delivered, it would be a glacially slow pace.  787 assembly at Charleston is completed in four position, just like the 787 line in Everett. It is my belief that Boeing is going to take its time rolling these airplanes out of the Charleston factory and will use the extra positions within the assembly hall to store a couple of airplanes. There are 8 flightline spots at Charleston so there isn't a lack of room.  The only reason to keep them inside to to ensure all assembly tasks are completed and to protect the airplanes from the elements.

I've listed LN 76 as stored but its location is inside building 88-03 in Charleston.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Projected 787 Delivery Dates for December; AMR in a position to finalize their 787-9 order?

With many of the 787s that are in pre-delivery having gone through their first (B-1) flights. I am going to take a moment and speculate on delivery dates for these airplanes.  These are my own assumptions assuming that these aircraft will have to fly the minimal number of acceptance flights.  For now I'm assuming that these planes will deliver between 21 and 24 days after each B-1 flight though there are exceptions (as in Air India, Chinese carriers, and LOT).  This also assumes that there aren't any issues that would need to be corrected and re-tested in subsequent test flights prior to delivery.

Here's my projected delivery dates for this month:

ZA289 (LN 55, N45905) United Airlines - 12/12/12 - 12/15/12
ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCK) Qatar Airways - 12/15/12 - 12/18/12
ZA464 (LN 82, A7-BCC) Qatar Airways - 12/24/12 - 12/27/12
ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A) ANA - 12/26/12 - 12/29/12
ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) ANA - 12/27/12 - 12/30/12
ZA287 (LN 52, N27903) United Airlines - 12/28/12 - 12/31/12
ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) JAL - 12/28/12 - 12/31/12

Again this is my own speculation but it's based on previous and recent deliveries of the 787.  These dates are always in flux and can change easily so I trust the reader will not hold me responsible if all the actual delivery dates turn out to be something totally different. 

Lastly, these numbers could change as Boeing can deliver 787s to Air India (2), China Southern (1) and even LOT Polish (1).  Boeing is making a huge effort to try and delivery these aircraft within the next 24 days and the way we can accurately tell is the flight activity of each of these airplanes over the next 2-3 weeks.

Lastly, the pilots union at American Airlines has ratified the new labor agreement with AMR today. This could be significant for 787-9 order that AA intends to finalize with Boeing as the order is dependent on AMR agreeing to a new contract with their pilots.  Now this was all before AMR entered Chapter 11 so the bankruptcy judge and AMR's creditors may have something to say about this order and whether it can proceed.  Additionally, a report emerged this evening that US Airways had submitted a bid for American in November.  What effect an AMR-US Airways merger would have on the MoU for the 42 787-9 American intends to finalize is unclear though US Airways does have an outstanding order for 18 A350-800 and 4 A350-900 by Airbus.  Boeing can deliver the 787-9 to American starting in 2014 (theoretically) which is much earlier than US Airways can get either variant of the A350 that they have ordered.  Also a combined company may be opened to operating a mixed Boeing-Airbus fleet as with Delta/Northwest and United/Continental.  A US Airways/American tie up would retain the American name.

Boeing conducts 6 new 787 first flights in one week.

UPDATE (6:38PM): Looks like Boeing has delivered LAN's 3rd 787 today.  Flightware shows a 787 delivery flight leaving Everett at 5:10PM local time for Santiago, Chile.

Boeing is quickening the pace of flying production 787s on their first flight.  Starting on Dec. 1, Boeing has sent up 6 different 787s for their first flight, otherwise known as the B-1 flight.  It appears that Boeing is aggressively trying to ramp up deliveries of these airplanes before the end of the year.  In addition to these 6 airplanes making their first flight, several others have had follow on test flights either by Boeing or customer pilots on several other 787s.

The planes that flew were as follows:

ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB) for LOT Polish Airlines

ZA464 (LN 82, A7-BCC) for Qatar Airways

ZA510 (LN 59, JA817J) for ANA

ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) for ANA

ZA287 (LN 52, N27903) for United Airlines
ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) for Japan Airlines

Obviously not all of these will be delivered this month, most notably ZA271 but I do still believe Boeing can deliver 8 787s this month possibly going to 10 if Air India sorts out its financial mess.

Given this pace, I can see Boeing delivering a couple airplanes next week but the bulk of deliveries should come around the week of December 17th.  The plan would be for Boeing to fly more test flights next week in preparation for delivery the following week (week of Dec. 17th). Boeing will be mostly closed during the week of Christmas but not fully shut down so we can certainly still see a couple of deliveries during the week of Dec. 24th depending on customer availability and needs.

I have made changes to the notes of some of the airplanes in the table.  Notably I am tracking the number of tests flights that each airplane takes during pre-delivery. After delivery I note which order it was delivered to that particular customer (i.e. ANA #1 meaning the first airplane delivered to ANA, etc.).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

787 flight activity picking up. Is Boeing preparing to give a big Xmas present?

Boeing may be getting set to give AvGeeks and their shareholders a big Xmas gift in the form of several 787 deliveries before the end of the year.

There has a been a noticeable uptick in 787 flight activity both at Everett and Charleston since the first of the month. In the first four days of December, Boeing has conducted 3 B-1 flights on ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB), ZA464 (LN 82, A7-BCC) and ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A).  These three aircraft are for LOT Polish Airlines, Qatar Airways and ANA respectively. 

In addition to these first flights, Boeing has conducted a few follow on test flights of other 787s including two in Charleston.  Both ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) and ZA240 (LN 65, VT-ANL) have flown out of Charleston in recent days. These aircraft were to have been delivered earlier in the fall but on going financing issues at Air India have prevented the carrier from taking delivery.  The fact that these two aircraft have flown on back-to-back days may raise the possibility that Air India has some how arranged the bridge financing needed to take delivery but this speculation is tempered by Air India complaining that their 787s are experiencing "electrical issues" and will not take anymore deliveries of 78s until these "issues" are corrected with a permanent fix.  Interestingly, none of the other 7 Dreamliner customers have reported (at least publicly) of any electrical issues with airplanes with the exception of yesterday's problem with United.

There are currently 7 787s that are in flight tests with another 6 that are making preparations for their B-1 flights.  Of the 6 preparing for 1st flight, I believe that 4 will eventually fly this month and fly fairly soon. There are 3 aircraft (all for Air India) that are ready for delivery but again it depends on the issues at Air India. Thus Boeing has the potential to deliver 14 though we know that they won't deliver that many.  For one thing Boeing hasn't conducted very many post B-1 test flights on these airplanes and some of the customers themselves may not be ready to take delivery by the end of the month.  Here's whom I believe will be able to take delivery this month:

ANA (2), Qatar Airways (2), United Airlines (2), LAN (1), Japan Airlines (1), Air India (2, maybe).

This is 8 (possibly going to 10) that can be delivered by the end of the month.  Since Boeing has taken the majority of these frames on a B-1 flight very early in the month, it leaves them enough time, prior to Boeing's Christmas break, to conduct further test flights and prepare the aircraft for delivery.

United had an incident with their third (and most recently delivered) 787.  This aircraft is N26902 which was delivered on Nov. 20th.  Thankfully, there wasn't any evidence fire or electrical arcing in the aft electrical bay of the 787 that made the emergency landing at New Orleans but preliminary reports say that one of the 6 starter generators on the aircraft failed.  The suspect part is being replaced and will be tested before the aircraft is placed back into service very soon. I believe the generators are made by Hamilton Sundstrand.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Is Boeing-SPEEA contract talks slowing down 787 work?

Boeing and SPEEA are in the midst of trying to negotiate a new contract with Boeing just yesterday saying that they will seek federal mediation in the contract negotiations.  However in recent weeks it has become very noticeable that the 787s that are on the flightline aren't flying that much despite many of these airplanes being outside for weeks and many that should have taken their B-1 flights have not made their first flight.

SPEEA has encouraged its members to take workplace actions such as slow downs and rejection of voluntary overtime.  These workplace actions may be the reason why there has been a drop off in flight and ground testing activity on the deliverable 787s at Everett.  I count at least 6 aircraft that haven't had any recent flight activity or has been out on the flightline for some time but have yet to take a first flight (this includes one aircraft in the paint hangar as of this morning). Boeing engineers are needed not just for design and production of the aircraft but are also for the pre-delivery ground and flight testing to resolve issues prior to delivery to the customer.

These workplace actions won't be enough to stop production and delivery but can significantly slow the delivery process down.  SPEEA members hasn't taken a vote, yet, on whether to authorize a strike but with the current contract expired and the negotiations deadlocked, it may not be too long before that happens.  If and when that happens then it is up to the leadership at SPEEA to call a strike and then all bet are off and production at Boeing's commercial aircraft plants will drastically slow down. 

In the event of a strike by SPEEA, Boeing will probably turn to management engineers to fill the void but that will probably still won't be enough. IAM751 has a current contract with Boeing but I'm not sure if they would honor a picket line by SPEEA or not.  As mentioned earlier, Boeing is asking for federal mediation in the contract talks so we'll have to see how that plays out.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Possible breakthrough between China and Boeing over 787s?

This afternoon Everett photographer, Matt Cawby, tweeted that ZA382 (LN 43, B-2727) has been moved from the South Ramp storage area to the Everett Fuel Dock.  I'm going out on a limb in saying that this may be an indication that the issues between CAAC and Boeing may have been resolved to allow delivery of 787s to the 3 Chinese carriers that have them on order (Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines).

This particular aircraft has made only one flight in late October and has since been put into storage.  One other 787 for Hainan flew 4 times before being stored on the South Ramp but it has not been moved yet.

I cannot offer any other reason for the move other than either 1) preparations for delivery to the customer 2) Preparing the aircraft to be flown to a long term storage facility in the US Southwest (i.e. Arizona or Southern California desert storage) or 3) Boeing carrying out some maintenance or assembly tasks that need to be done.

Still it has raised eyebrows and I'll try to ascertain why the aircraft is at the fuel dock.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Updated 787 firing order - through 1st quarter 2013

First center wingbox section for ZA450 (LN 108) for British Airways
Photo Courtesy of Saj Ahmad ( and British Airways

787s for British Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle (leased through ILFC) will begin final assembly in the 1st quarter of 2013 are the highlights of the firing order of the 1st quarter of 2013.

The customer list for LN 101 to LN 115 are: ANA, British Airways, China Southern Airlines, Japan Airlines, ILFC (Aeromexico), ILFC (Norwegian Air Shuttle), LAN, Qatar Airways, Thomson Airways.

LN 115 should enter the final assembly system by the end of March, 2013.  Here are the airlines and their allocations of 787s from this batch of 15 aircraft.

ANA (3)

ZA120 (LN 101)
ZA514 (LN 107)
ZA121 (LN 110)

British Airways (3)

ZA450 (LN 108)
ZA451 (LN 111)
ZA452 (LN 114)

China Southern Airlines (1)

ZA386 (LN 104)*

Japan Airlines (1)

ZA186 (LN 105)

ILFC/Aeromexico (1)

ZA561 (LN 115)

ILFC/Norwegian Air Shuttle (2)

ZA576 (LN 102)
ZA577 (LN 112)

LAN (1)

ZA539 (LN 113)*

Qatar Airways (2)

ZA466 (LN 103)
ZA467 (LN 109)*

TUI Travel PLC/Thomson Airways (1)

ZA320 (LN 106)

*These airplanes will be assembled in Charleston.

Again it seems that Boeing is allocating 4 787s (two for each line) to Everett and one for Charleston.  Everett is at 4 per month while Charleston is at 1 per month.  In mid 2013 the rate is to go up to 7/month though I am not sure if the two additional aircraft per month will be split evenly between Everett and Charleston.  Please see my table for complete information.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Boeing Execs Update on the 787 program through RBC Conference Call

Larry Loftis, VP and General Manager, 787 program and Pat Shanahan, Senior VP and general manager, Airplane Programs at Boeing were hosted on an investor conference call presented by RBC this afternoon.

Here's a synopsis of their comments and what was said on the call:

To date Boeing has delivered 38 787s overall and 35 in 2012 to 8 different customers. Boeing customers have told the company that the aircraft is meeting fuel burn expectations and passengers are also delivering great feedback in terms of comfort of the aircraft.

Started the year at 2.5/month production rate and will end the year at the current rate of 5/month. Boeing is tracking to plan to increase production to 10/month by the end of 2013. 

The next rate increase is to 7/month which is expected in mid 2013, whereupon it will stabilize at that rate before increasing to 10/month.

Boeing is well past the 90% engineering release milestone on the 787-9 and that was completed about 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule. The supply chain is largely the same as the 787-8 but have bought some work back in house. Schedule – the airplane is meeting all engineering milestones.  It is on original schedules with some suppliers ahead of schedule. The major components are currently being assembled by the major (tier 1) suppliers while wing assembly will start later this year into the very early part of 2013.  Boeing will introducing the 787-9 in to final assembly in late spring – late summer of 2013 and flight test in fall 2013 with EIS in early 2014. There will be 3 flight test aircraft with all three currently in production. the wing spars are currently being built at MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries). There is a buffer in the schedule but it is looking like they won’t need it. The 787-9 weight has been stable and has improved by a couple hundred pounds. Boeing is planning for  6 months for flight test, but has been doing flight testing on the 787-8 to gather data to support the 787-9.  We now know why Boeing has been flying ZA005 lately. There is extra flow in the production system that has been allotted to the 787-9 in case there are issues during assembly of that aircraft.
Boeing has 3 final assembly lines going for the 787 and allows them a greater degree of flexibility to manage the ramp up of the 787 while introducing the 787-9 into the system.  The current plan is to continue to have the production split between Everett and Charleston at 70%/30%.  Boeing has been very pleased with the improvements in the production system over the last 12 months. The quality of the work and processes improve everyday, and the learning curve is tracking to their expectations. The curve at Charleston has been very good (for a new site, makes your wonder if Boeing had better expectations). Boeing has transferred best practices at Everett to Charleston and information is flowing back and forth very freely.  Boeing's intents is to make sure they have one standard set of best practices for both sites (one production system for 2 sites). 

Boeing has the ability to go beyond the 10/month production rate. The ability to go beyond 10/month will be determined by the market.  There's no constraint on bricks and mortar aspect of increasing the rate. Boeing has an understanding of the capabilities of the suppliers as well as their own capabilities.  The question will be the capacity of the suppliers and the rate to adding capacity.

By the end of the year, Boeing will have 60% of pre-LN 66 airplanes delivered. The remaining aircraft that are awaiting change incorporation will be delivered during 2013 to 2015 (Boeing currently has 23 aircraft undergoing change incorporation or awaiting change incorporation including 3 test airplanes).  The ones that remain are the lower line number and will take longer to complete as the extent of the changes  needed are extensive. There are firm homes for the majority of the planes that have yet to go through change incorporation. there are a couple that still need to find a customer (I'm guessing that these are ZA004 and ZA005).

With regards to delays, Boeing says that there  aren't any systemic delays (which would take weeks or months to resolve) in the production system but one off delays amounting  to a few days delivery of the 787 to customers because they are still learning.  Boeing would not comment on delays to specific customers or countries (China).

On the 787-10, Boeing is not ready to launch yet as they still have some work to do before they are ready to launch the program.  (Note they have said anything about Authority to Offer, ATO). Technically they are confident of the 787-10; operationally and financially they are trying to be more measured with their plans for the aircraft.  They are expecting an EIS at the back end of this decade (2017-2019 timeframe?).  It depends on when Boeing has finished the work they are engaged in with regards to the 787-10.  Boeing expects substitutions between the family of 787 models (go up or down within the different 787 models).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Boeing meets low end 787 delivery target for 2012 deliveries

At the beginning of the year, Boeing laid out its 2012 787/747 target estimate at between 70 and 85 aircraft with the split at 50/50 between the two aircraft.  This meant that Boeing was planning to deliver between 35 and 42 787s this year. Through out the year Boeing maintained that target and on November 20th, Boeing delivered two 787, one each to Qatar Airways and United Airlines, which allowed them to reach 35 787s delivered in 2012, the lower end of their estimate.  This accomplishment reinforces the belief that the 787 production system has recovered and places the company in an excellent position to continue the climb to 10/month on 787 production rate. Word has it that Boeing is asking suppliers about going beyond 10/month and push output to 14/month by late in the decade (around 2018-2019).  It still in the planning phase but this is probably great news for the program overall especially since Boeing is on the verge of a full launch of the 787-10.

Boeing certainly can reach the upper end of their estimate (another 7) with the 787s that are on the flightline preparing for first flight.  ZA289 (LN 55, N45905) for United Airlines made it's first flight on November 21st and I expect ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCK) to fly around Nov. 23rd and both should deliver next month.  Two other 787s have had engine runs according to Matt Cawby on his photo blog. Both ZA285 (LN 45) and ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A) should fly by the first week of December if not by the end of November.  That is four 787s that I expect to deliver in December in addition to ZA538 (LN 80, CC-BCC) for LAN.

Here are the potential deliveries through Dec. 31st:

ZA285 (LN 45, N26901) - United Airlines
ZA286 (LN 50, N26902) - United Airlines

ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) - Air India*
ZA289 (LN 55, N45905) - United Airlines
ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A) - ANA
ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) - Air India*
ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCK) - Qatar Airways
ZA240 (LN 65, VT-ANL) - Air India*
ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB) - LOT Polish Airlines**
ZA538 (LN 80, CC-BBC) - LAN Airlines
ZA464 (LN 82, A7-BCC) - Qatar Airways
ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) - ANA
ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) - Japan Airlines

*Dependent on Air India obtaining bridge financing to pay for the aircraft

**Supposed to have delivery flight to Poland in early January but may contractually deliver in December

Of these listed 8 I believe are highly probable deliveries  but that does not include any for Air India or the aircraft for LOT Polish Airlines. It is rumored that Air India will take delivery of a 787 by the end of November but that is all dependent on the carriers' finances.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weather likely to slow down 787 deliveries over next few days

The Everett weather may be looking to put a hold on deliveries for the next few days and may ground aircraft  all together.  The Seattle area is expecting rain....a lot of it as Mt Ranier is forecasted to have 10 FEET of snow but the lower elevations, while not getting that much, will probably be clobbered as well with large amounts of rain.  Boeing is still stuck at 35 deliveries in total to 8 customers.  There has been some movements of assembled aircraft with ZA504 (LN 15) moving to the Runaway storage area and ZA150 (LN 17) moving to the EMC.  In a surprise move, ZA381 (LN 36, B-2726) was moved to the EMC, ostensibly for change incorporation.  This MAY indicate some movement to deliver 787s to the Chinese (China Southern and Hainan) but it's too early to tell.  This aircraft could easily go back to the temporary parking/storage that it had previously occupied. ZA175 (LN 20) finally made it inside the EMC to continue change incorporation and finally ZA287 (LN 52, N26903) was moved to the paint hangar and should be out soon. Interestingly ZA285 (LN 45, N29601) is still out on the flightline even though it was pulled out of the EMC earlier.

With the Thanksgiving holidays coming up along with the rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest, don't expect too much happening out of Everett this week.  There is supposed to be a line move early next week.  Lastly, there is a rumor that Air India will be able to pay for another 787 this week and fly it away from Charleston but so far nothing has happened.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Into the 2012 787 delivery home stretch...what can we expect

As we head into the last six and a half weeks of 2012, the delivery picture for the 787 is getting clearer as to what we can expect over the next 45 days.

To start I'm listing the 787s that may be delivered in the weeks to come before the end of the year.

ZA261 (LN 44, ET-AOP) - Ethiopian
ZA285 (LN 45, N26901) - United Airlines
ZA286 (LN 50, N26902) - United Airlines
ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) - Air India*
ZA289 (LN 55, N26905) - United Airlines
ZA460 (LN 57, A7-BCA) - Qatar Airways
ZA510 (LN 59, JA817A) - ANA
ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) - Air India*
ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCK) - Qatar Airways
ZA240 (LN 65, VT-ANL) - Air India*
ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB) - LOT Polish Airlines**
ZA538 (LN 80, CC-BBC) - LAN Airlines
ZA464 (LN 82, A7-BCC) - Qatar Airways
ZA512 (LN 83, JA818A) - ANA
ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) - Japan Airlines

*Dependent on Air India obtaining bridge financing to pay for the aircraft
**Supposed to have delivery flight to Poland in early January but may contractually deliver in December

There are 15 aircraft listed here but I have doubts about 4 of them being contractually delivered by Dec. 31st (as noted with the asterisks).  This means that 11, I believe, will be firmly delivered by the end of the year.  Boeing is currently at 32 aircraft that were delivered in 2012, which means they can potentially deliver 43 airplanes. If Air India and LOT take delivery of the aircraft that I have highlighted then the nunber goes to 47.  One can imagine if Air India and the Chinese carriers had no issues, then the number of deliveries would be just north of 50. Boeing is certain to achieve the higher end of their 787 delivery forecast.  Of the aircraft that are currently at the EMC and undergoing change incorporation, I don't anticipate that any these 787s will be completed in time to be delivered this year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big week for the 787 program

Boeing saw two 787 customer fly aways this week as mostly positive news about the program reinforced the view that the program is on a solid course to recover and to become profitable. 
First came news (that this blog revealed in an earlier post) that Boeing is producing the 787 at 5/month including one per month from Boeing Charleston.

This further reinforces the view that Boeing is on a solid track to achieve the planned production rate of 7/month in Everett and 3/month in North Charleston. ZA511 (LN 83, JA818A) was rolled out last week and represents the first aircraft built at the 5/month rate.

Boeing's Board of Directors gave a soft ok to Boeing's Commercial Sales staff to begin discussions with customers regarding the 787-10 which is a double stretch of the baseline 787-8.  This aircraft, which will compete head on with Airbus' A330-300 and A350-900 and will be marketed as a 777-200 replacement, has generated a lot of positive feedback.  Qatar Airways' is reportedly in negotiations to convert some of the 30 firm and 30 options that they have on the 787-8 into the 787-10.  Since the 787-10 is not due to be delivered around 2018 or 2019, conversions will allow Boeing to free up short term delivery slots for 787-8 and 787-9 thus helping sales of those versions of the Dreamliner.  Given that the program needs sales of over 1000 787s to achieve breakeven, the 787-10 will certainly help Boeing attain that as it is rumored that Boeing can sell as many as 500 787-10s.  Boeing doesn't have the full ATO (Authority To Offer) but it is widely rumored that this should happen very very shortly, (as soon as this month) which leads me to believe that Boeing will probably have one or two launch customers lined up with an MoU.  These sales won't be posted as firm until next year however.  Other potential customers include British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Ethihad, Air France, Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, and any carrier with a 777-200 or an A330-300.

The not so good news is that Gulf Air is reducing the number of 787s they have on order.  The order book once had 24 787ss for the Middle Eastern carrier which has been reduced to the current 16 and may go as low as 12.

Boeing had official handovers of 787s this week to Qatar Airways and LOT Polish Airlines.  Both aircraft were contractually delivered earlier so these "deliveries" were ceremonial (read: for the media) in nature as was the fly aways to the airlines' respective home bases.

Looking ahead Boeing will load another 787 tomorrow into position 1 on the surge line.  This will be ZA317 (LN 92, G-TUIA) for Thomson Airways, the British charter airline.  It'll be the first 787 delivered to a British carrier but it certainly won't be the only British carrier to receive the 787 in 2013.  Boeing will push out ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) for Japan Airlines.  This aircraft should be delivered by the end of December to the Japanese carrier.

In terms of deliveries, there are currently 5 787s that are ready to be delivered but two of them are for Air India and given the precarious state of the bridge financing needed to pay for the deliveries, it is highly unlikely that they will be delivered anytime soon but Boeing has prepared them for delivery.  There are one each for Untied Airlines, Qatar and Ethiopian that are ready.  According to my sources, Qatar should take their third 787 next week, Ethiopian will take their fourth later this week and Untied should follow with their third late next week.  There are several more that are preparing to fly or are in the middle of Boeing/customer test flights.  LAN's third had its B-1 flight which was cut short due to a squawk that developed 20 minutes into the flight. Matt Caby reported that the issue was in the (air conditioning) packs. One 787 each for Qatar and United should be flying very soon though expect their deliveries to occur around December if the B-1 flights are not performed this week.  ANA's 17th aircraft is on the flightline but probably won't fly until the end of this month at the earliest. 

Boeing has the potential to deliver at least 3 more 787s this month in addition to the 2 already delivered but if Air India gets its act together then we can see two more 787s delivered this month for a total of 7.  Right now 5 is more realistic for a delivery number in November.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Air India 787 deliveries put on hold...again

It seems that 787 deliveries to Air India are on hold.....again.  Apparently Air India is in the middle of a a "tussle" between the Indian Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Civil Aviation.  They whole debacle has scuttled the bridge financing needed to pay for the 787 purchases (later to be paid back when Air India arranges a sale-lease back agreement with another party).

The carrier has issued a new RFP for bridge financing.  In the meantime look for Boeing Charleston to be turned into a a 78 parking lot as 787 for Air India, China Southern and Hainan Airlines take up all the available parking stalls at the facility (there are currently 8 stalls for 787s).  There are 9 787s that are built, will be built or in production there and all of them are for the aforementioned carriers with a 10th at Ft. Worth being painted.

Given this information I'm revising my delivery expectation downward by another three aircraft. I expect Boeing will deliver 14 more 787s by the end of December for a total of 44 787s for 2012 and 47 deliveries since the program started delivering in 2011.

Between the two assembly locations and the three airlines, there are 22 total airframes (thus far) that are assembled, going through assembly or will be assembled that are affected by the issues with the CAAC and the Indian Government.  Unsurprisingly, it is the governmental entities of India and China (a tribute to Socialism) that are being the barriers to delivery.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Boeing closing on 787 delivery target but can they make 50?

Through October 2012, Boeing has delivered 30 787s to 7 customers.  Their publicly announced target was between 35 and 42.  They will certainly hit the lower target this month and the upper target in December but the question is can they deliver 50 787s this year. 

In earlier posts I've maintained that they can deliver 50 787s by year end. However given recent developments with China that target will now have to be revised downwards.  They can certainly attain 42 deliveries and higher but it will not be 50 airplanes.

Here's breakdown of whom I think will get 787s in November and December:

Air India - 3 deliveries

ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) - November
ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) - November
ZA240 (LN 65, VT-ANL) - December

ANA - 2 deliveries

ZA512 (LN 83) - November
ZA510 (LN 59) - December

Ethiopian - 1 delivery

ZA261 (LN 44, ET-AOP) - November

Japan Airlines - 1 delivery

ZA183 (LN 84, JA829J) - December

LAN - 1 delivery

ZA538 (LN 80, CC-BBC) - November

LOT Polish Airlines - 2 deliveries

ZA270 (LN 61, SP-LRA) - November
ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB) - December

Qatar Airways - 4 deliveries

ZA460 (LN 57, A7-BCA) - November
ZA463 (LN 64, A7-BCL) - November
ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCC) - December
ZA464 (LN 82) - December

United Airlines - 3 deliveries

ZA286 (LN 50, N26902) - November
ZA289 (LN 55, N26905) - November
ZA287 (LN 52, N26903) - December

This totals 17 Dreamliners that would be delivered thought there is an outside chance that one more air frame for Japan Airlines cold be delivered by the end of December.  The total for 2012 would be 47 airplanes in total which would certainly exceed the high end of Boeing forecasted deliveries.  Again the main driver in the reduction is the lack of deliveries to China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

787 now solidly at 5/month production rate. Chinese 787s into storage, LOT 787s delivery schedule clarified....a bit

Boeing has moved three 787s for two Chinese carriers into long term storage at Everett's South Ramp while a fourth 787 awaiting change incorporation is also being stored on a runaway parking spot.

Boeing has moved ZA380 (LN 34, B-2725) and ZA382 (LN 43, B-2727) bot h for China Southern Airlines as well as ZA430 (LN 73, B-2728) for Hainan Airlines into the South Ramp and has taped and sealed the aircraft to protect them until they are ready to be delivered. ZA381 (LN 36, B-2726) had been stored on the Everett's RWY 11/29 with other 787s awaiting change incorporation and will probably be there for some time until the issues with the CAAC are resolved. There are 7 other 787s that are in production or final assembly and I am not sure if those airframes will be reallocated or will be produced for Hainan and China Southern and then stored. It seems to me that it will be the former as buyer furnished equipment such as the engines and galleys have, at this stage, been ordered and delivered or will be delivered soon to Boeing's facilities in Charleston and Everett.  These items require lead time and Boeing did go ahead with production on the Chinese airframes even through the issues with China was not resolved.

On a brighter note, I received information regarding LOT Polish Airlines' 787 deliveries.  The first contractual delivery of ZA270 (LN 61, SP-LRA) is tentatively scheduled for November 9th.  This aircraft will remain in Everett for about 5 days for crew training before flying to Warsaw on the 14th.

Future deliveries flights of LOT's other 787s to Warsaw are scheduled as follows:

ZA271 (LN 78, SP-LRB) - delivery to Warsaw is in early January 2013 (probably contractual delivery in late December 2012)

The other three in production are to be delivered at monthly intervals during the first quarter of 2013 but they will all be waiting in Everett in storage which begs the question,why start producing them now when delivery is months away?  I don't have an answer for that, unfortunately.

In production news, Charleston is starting to move faster on production out put of 787s.  The 5th Charleston built 787 was moved out to the flightline within the last couple of days.  This is ZA241 (LN 72, VT-ANM) for Air India. This means that Boeing has achieved a 1/month production rate on the 787s at Charleston and a solid 4/month at Everett.. During the day today, Boeing sent ZA240 (LN 65, VT-ANL) to Ft Worth for painting and ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) was flown back to Charleston to finish pre-delivery test flights.  It is rumored that Boeing will deliver ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) this week to Air India but there is still some uncertainty due to Air India's financing the purchases of the Dreamliner.

Boeing continues to work on the '87s at Everett that need re-work.  They had recently started change incorporation on ZA504 (LN 15) for ANA and this past weekend, they moved ZA234 (LN 30, VT-ANE) to the EMC.  Given the amount of re-work needed on these frames it'll be sometime around the first quarter of 2013 before this aircraft is delivered.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm Baaaack...but only for the moment - Post Sandy 787 Update

Hello everyone,
First off I want to thank you all who have sent me best wishes during the last few days. It's been difficult as I have no power, heat (temps are in the low 40s F overnight) and hot water (for bathing, cleaning, etc.).  I'm hopingto have power back in the enxt couple of days but we're not sure when it'll happen.  Right now I'm camped out in the local public library where there is WIFI (real slow due to all the residents who are also here), electricity and heat.  I'll put up a post but not sure when I will be able to do so again.

Anyway on to business.

Boeing had two quick deliveries on Halloween, let's call them "ghost deliveries" as they weren't expected.  In particular the delivery to United of its 2nd 787.  the information coming from United and even Boeing itself didn't indicate a delivery was imminent but they did deliver ZA290 (LN 77, N26906) on Wednesday.  United just announced that they have finished FAA certification of their 787 operations and now should be ready to start limited service on Monday, Nov. 4th. Boeing should still be able to deliver the two Dreamliners to the carrier in November.  These frame are re-worked frames so we would have to see how fast they would go through the pre-delivery and test flight process as ZA290 was a new build that didn't need any re-work and had only needed 2 test flights before being delivered to United.  It's not known when United will press ZA290 into service. 

The second airplane that was delivered was ZA511 (LN 63, JA816A) to ANA which is a reworked frame that had 3 test flights prior to being delivered.  For October, Boeing matched the monthly high of 7 deliveries which was achieved in September.

November as mentioned in the prior post may be big but there are issues that may depress deliveries.  First is the uncertainty over deliveries to the Chinese carriers.  There is a certification issue, rumor has it, with the Chinese aviation authorities (CAAC). 

When asked about it Boeing replied: "In keeping with our standard practices, we work with regulatory authorities in advance of local airlines taking delivery of a new model of airplane. Also, as we’ve stated before, we don’t provide forward-looking comments regarding the production or delivery schedules of our customers."

The issue with CAAC has been reinforced when Boeing put both  ZA382 (LN 43, B-2727) for China Southern Airlines and ZA430 (LN 73, B2728) for Hainan into storage at Everett's South Ramp.  This indicates that the issue will take some time to sort out.  Boeing has one more 787s for Hainan Airlines that is on the flightline but so far they have not made a move to store it...yet.  There are several 787s that are in production for both Chinese carriers.  In addition to the aforementioned airplanes that have flown or been pulled out of final assembly and on the flightline, there are 2 787s for China Southern that are in storage or in change incorporation.  At Boeing Charleston there are 3 787s in final assembly for Hainan Airlines and 3 more (all for China Southern) are to start final assembly at either Everett of Boeing Charleston by the end of the year or early January.  This is a total of 11 airframes that are potentially to be stored if the issues are not resolved with CAAC.

Boeing as of today has 14 airplanes that are in pre-flight, flight testing or ready to be delivered.  Rumor has it that ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) is to be delivered sometime next week to Air India.  It was to have been delivered last month and it is unknown as to why there was a delay but this is Air India. 'Nuff said.

Qatar Airways seems to be moving towards taking 2 more 787s in November though I'm still trying to get confirmation on this LOT Polish Airlines should take their first 787 in about 10 days as well.  That is 4 aircraft thus far.

Here is what I think will be delivered this month:

ZA261 - Ethiopian - 2 test flights already and flying a 3rd today
ZA286 - United Airlines - in pre-flight
ZA238 - Air India - ready for delivery
ZA289 - United Airlines - in pre-flight
ZA460 - Qatar Airways - 2 test flights thus far
ZA239 - Air India - 2 test flights and in paint
ZA270 - LOT Polish Airlines - 2 Boeing test flights thus far
ZA463 - Qatar Airways - 4 test flights thus far
ZA271 - LOT Polish Airlines - in pre-flight may deliver late this month or by end of December
ZA538 - LAN - in pre-flight and should fly soon

This is a total of 9 (with a possibility of 10) 787s being delivered this month.  Obviously I am not counting any of the Chinese airframes. It remains to be seen how those airframes that are currently in production will fare in terms of getting through pre-flight and being delivered by the end of the month but I can see one more airframe being delivered to ANA in November (probably the re-work frame) and one for JAL may also make it by the end of the month.

Boeing also has moved one of the "terrible teens" from runaway storage to the EMC to start chagne incorporation.  This aircraft is ZA504 (LN 15).  Right now this aircraft is listed to go to ANA but this may change.  ANother aircraft for Qatar Airways has completed change incorporation and paint is now spotted at the Everett Fuel Dock.  This aircraft is ZA462 (LN 62, A7-BCC).  Lastly, Boeig loaded ZA184 (LN 89, JA830A) into position 1 in the 40-24 surge line to start final assembly.  Boeing is keeping up the assembly rate at around 5 airplanes per month.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

787 deliveries may be done for October, November looks to be a big month

Boeing looks to be done with making 787 deliveries for the month of October but November is potentially looking to be a very big month with 16 aircraft already in test flight or pre-flight.  Certainly not all those will be delivered in November but several planes coming out of the assembly line would be ready to deliver by the end of November.  The main reason of the low number in October is the bad weather which prevented Boeing from conducting first flights within their established guidlines governing 1st flights of production aircraft.  Of particular note, the low ceiling levels as well as precipitation that violated Boeing's first flight rules.

Boeing may still be able to deliver one or two more 787s by Wednesday (Oct. 31st) though it is highly doubtful.  I can see many deliveries taking place in the first two weeks of November but some may be delayed due to certain customer issues.

Air India - This customer was to have one 787 delivered from Charleston (2nd Charleston built 787) at the end of October but this is now looking like it will deliver in the first two weeks of November.  A third CHS built 787 is currently at Fort Worth being painted and should fly back to Charleston by next weekend.  A fourth CHS 787 for Air India took its first flight today and I would expect that it can go to Ft. Worth by the end of this week or early next week for painting.  I am still not sure on whether the issues surrounding Air India are resolved as these have been the major factors to the delays in delivering the 787s in recent months but if they are then it should be relatively smooth sailing in November. My prediction for November:

Air India - 2 787s will be delivered.

ANA - One 787 still in flight test and this aircraft has taken its 3rd test flight today.  It is possible that it can deliver by Wednesday Oct. 31st but I think the odds are not good.  It will certainly deliver in the first 2 weeks of November.  A second 787 for ANA is at the EMC undergoing change incorporation but this is a late build 787 which doesn't need much change incorporation so I believe it should be out on the flightline shortly and ready to go through the pre-flight program and deliver by the end of November. My prediction for November:

ANA - 2 787s will be delivered.

China Southern Airlines - There is currently one aircraft that is out on the flightline and has had only one test flight. I am still unsure if China's civil aviation authorities have certified the 787 for use by Chinese carriers or not and this uncertainty makes it difficult to say with any confidence if this aircraft (or any 787s for Chinese airlines) will be delivered this month.  This is another 787 at the EMC for China Southern that has spent a lot of time in change incorporation and I doubt that this airplane will be ready to be delivered in November. It is entirely possible that Boeing and CAAC can use the 787s that are out on the flightline to satisfy any certification requirements for the Chinese authorities but so far I don't think this is happening just yet. I'm not holding my breath on this one.  My prediction for November:

China Southern Airlines - 0 787s will be delivered.

Ethiopian Airlines - With 3 787s already in hand, the fourth has had one test flight but I do expect that further test flights should take place shortly.  This airplane should deliver within the first 2 weeks of November.  The 5 787 (and last that will be delivered to this airline in 2012) is at the EMC and I suspect will be rolled out to the flightline by the end of November for a December delivery.  My prediction for November:

Ethiopian Airlines - 1 787 will be delivered.

Hainan Airlines - Boeing has flown this aircraft 3 times already but the issues surrounding delivery to Hainan remain the same as that of China Southern. A 2nd Hainan 787 has been on the 40-51 ramp for some time now and has not even gone into the paint hangar.  I'm not too optimistic that these deliveries will take place in November but I have been wrong.  My prediction for November:

Hainan Airlines - 0 787s will be delivered.

LAN - The carrier too delivery of its 2nd 787 this past week and has a 3rd one out on the flightline going through pre-flight. 1st flight should take place, I believe, within the first 10 days of November with a delivery date in late November.  There aren't any more 787 in the pipeline for a December delivery so it will be the last one delivered to LAN in 2012. My prediction for November:

LAN - 1 787 will be delivered.

LOT Polish Airlines - LOTs 1st 787 has only made one test flight however the airline is saying that they will be taking delivery of their 1st aircraft around November 11 or 12th with delivery flight to Warsaw around November 15th.  A second 787 is at EMC finishing up some minor assembly tasks and already painted. I expect that this airplane will be pulled to the flightline from the EMC by mid November and should have its first flight in the later half of the month with a projected delivery in December.  There are three more 787 for LOT in final assembly and one or two of these airplanes can possibly deliver in December but certainly in January of 2013.  My prediction for November:

LOT Polish Airlines - 1 787 will be delivered.

Qatar Airways - A big one.  This airlines has already taken contractual delivery of one airplane that  is having modifications in Victorville.  There are 2 more 787s that are on the flight line at Everett. one aircraft has had 2 test flights thus far and the third one has had 3.  Assuming that there are no issues with the aircraft itself, I can see these two airplanes being delivered within the first two weeks of November possibly one may deliver before the end of October but that is a long shot.  This is Qatar Airways and they are very unpredictable and demanding.  Yet Boeing was able to satisfy them with the first airframe delivered in early October so there is hope.  There is one more in final assembly which should pull out a the end of this week (going to paint) and deliver by the end of November. One more 787 is in the EMC which is a late build and should be out on the flightline by around middle November and can be delivered in early December.  My prediction for November:

Qatar Airways - 2 787s will be delivered.

United Airlines - Another big one.  United just announced that they are delaying the implementation of it 787 schedule (domestic) as result of delays in the delivery of one 787 that was due in October. They are delaying the launch of some 787 domestic service that was supposed to start on November 4th.  Currently the 2nd 787s for United is in test flights and has had two flights already.  There are two more on the flightline both of which still need to make their first flights.  I do think that Boeing can get both these airplanes in the air by early to mid November and have a least two of them delivered to United by the end of the month with one delivered in the 1st two weeks of November.  The other 2 787s that are in change incorporation should be ready to be delivered by the end of December. My prediction for November:

United Airlines - 2 787 will be delivered.

This is a total of 11 787s delivered in November which is attainable.  Many of these airplanes are in test flights or customer flights and a few are about to enter the test flight program prior to handover.  Still the first two weeks of November should see quite a few 787 deliveries being madeto customers but weather will determine the pace of on going deliveries.

A bit of programming note...given that I am in the middle of Hurricane Sandy's target area I may be offline for up to a couple of weeks depending on when and if power needs to be restored. Hopefully it won't be too bad but I will try to update information, particularly on the tables via cell phone which is not particularly easy to do.  Thank you for your patience.

Monday, October 22, 2012

6 787s fly for the first time in 5 days

From Oct. 18 to Oct. 22 inclusive, Boeing took advantage of a break in the weather to fly 6 different production 787s on their B-1 flights.  The aircraft were obviously ready but bad weather forced a hold on all B-1 flights. Thus when the break came Boeing released the planes for flight.  However because of the delay, I expect that none of these airplanes will be able to be delivered by the end of the month.  It does potentially set up November as a big month for deliveries but there may be a knock on efffect as 787s that were scheduled for flights around this time will be pushed back to later this month and certainly into early November.

ZA270 (LN 61, SP-LRA) - LOT Polish Airlines

ZA430 (LN 73, B-2728) - Hainan Airlines
ZA290 (LN 77, N26906) - United Airlines

ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) - Air India

ZA261 (LN 44, ET-AOP) - Ethiopian Airways
ZA460 (LN 57, A7-BCA) - Qatar Airways

In addition to the increase B-1 flights, there was a very noticable increase in follow on flights of other airframes that have already flown.  There included a C-1 flight for ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) which is expected to be delivered to Air India before the end of the month, hopefully). 

Given the increased activity, however, I do not expect a lot of deliveries in the next 8 days.  There are really 3 airplanes that are ready for delivery or will be ready for delivery.  There is a possibility of one more airplane that could be delivered this month but it only has an outside chance.

Ready or almost ready for delivery:

ZA537 (LN 74, CC-BBB) - LAN
ZA264 (LN 75, ET-AOS) - Ethiopian
ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) - Air India (only had one C-1 flight may need more)

The one airframe that might make it for delivery by the end of this month is:

ZA511 (LN 63, JA816A) - ANA

The last aircraft still needs to perform customer flights and I am not sure if it has completed all the Boeing test flights at this point even though it has flown twice.

It is apparent that if Boeing can maintain an aggressive flying schedule in November, they can have a lot delivieries in that month.  Much depends on the aircraft condition after completing final assembly/change incorporation as well as weather and the ability to work through the backlog of planes that are finished and need to go through testing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Several 787s getting set for 1st flight

Boeing seems to be ready to fly several 787s on their first flights as well as continue flight testing several more in preparation for delivery.  As of today Boeing has delivered 29 planes to 7 worldwide customers.

There have been several Flightaware alerts for several 787s that are sitting at Everett and Charleston.

Yesterday there were several Flightaware alerts for several 787 B-1 flights.  Those that were  slated to fly were ZA460 (LN 57, A7-BCA) for Qatar Airways, ZA270 (LN 61, SP-LRA) for LOT Polish Airlines, ZA290 (LN 77, N26906) for United Airlines. However by the end of the day only ZA270 flew while the other two conducted taxi tests around Everett.  Today there were Flightaware alerts for 2 B-1 flights: ZA430 (LN 73. B-2728) for Hainan Airlines and ZA239 (LN 60, VT-ANK) for Air India, the later being the third Charleston built 787 which should deliver sometime around November.  As of now these 787s have not flown and have probably ran taxi tests around their respective airfields. I also expect that ZA261 (LN 44, ET-AOP) for Ethiopian should also take flight by sometime next week from Everett.  This is an indication that Boeing is trying to aggressively ramp up the delivery process once the airplanes have left the EMC or the assembly line.  I would expect that within the next couple of day that all these airplanes will fly as well as continued flight test activity from the airplanes that have already flown in preparation for delivery.  The big factor nowadays is the weather around Washington State which is keeping the airplanes grounded (today for instance).

Meanwhile production and re-work continues at a pretty good pace with ZA538 (LN 80, CC-BBC) for LAN and ZA289 (LN 55, N26905) for United Airlines both entering the paint hangars at Everett. Assembly continues to pace at a little over 4/month.  New airframes are being loaded in Everett at about 1 every week with the next one slated to load on Oct. 25.  There are currently two 787s that are ready for delivery one for LAN (ZA537, LN 74, CC-BBB) and one for Ethiopian (ZA264, LN 75, ET-AOS).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Boeing gets a break in the weather, send up 3 787s for flight tests

For the last few days Boeing has been trying to fly two 787s on their first (B-1) flights.  The weather in the Pacific Northwest has been an issue  but the flight test team caught a break today and were able to send up two planes today along with a third 787 making its C-2 (customer acceptance) flight.

Both ZA511 (LN 63, JA816A) for ANA and ZA382 (LN 43, B-2727) for China Southern made their B-1 flights today as Boeing attempts to deliver them by month end.  Additionally ZA264 (LN 75, ET-AOS) made its second customer (C-2) flight today. It is hoped that this airplane should deliver late next week.  It is also hoped that Boeing will be able to deliver ZA238 (LN 54, VT-ANJ) to Air India.  This airplane also needs to fly customer flights but should be able to do so during the coming week if the schedule delivery is to take place in about 10 days of so.  Boeing isn't scheduled to deliver another 787 from Charleston until November so they have time to conduct B-1 on the next 787 built there (ZA239, LN 60, VT-ANK for Air India), I suspect a B-1 flight of this airplane around the end of the month. Another 787 that is expected to be delivered is LAN's 2nd 787.  That airplane is scheduled for an Oct. 18th delivery but has made only one test flight.  Boeing will need to do a couple more flight as well as LAN customer flights in the next 6 days.  This one may actually slide into the following week.

Official handover of Qatar's first 787 sliding into November

According to a new post by Strategic Aero's Saj Ahmad, the official handover of Qatar's first 787 will slide into early November.  The cause is the delayed contractual delivery to Qatar was due to the delays caused by the Thales IFE that Qatar ordered.  Currently, the aircraft is in Victorville, CA undergoing installation of the IFE.  It is unclear what effects this may have on future deliveries to Qatar Airways but Saj is saying that at least one 787 planned for delivery to the Doha based carrier will be delivered early next year.  There are currently 2 787s for Qatar Airways waiting on the Boeing flightline and I'm not sure how the deliveries of these two airplanes is affected.  One of the planes has flown its first flight while the other has not.

It is important to note that despite the public flogging by Akbar Al Baker, Qatar isn't holding Boeing responsible for the current delays as the delays are the fault of Thales.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Boeing trying to reduce the stored 787 backlog

Now that Boeing has achieved the 5/month assembly rate on the 787 program, the challenge is to make sure the higher rate doesn't contribute to the increase in the number of stored 787 at Everett. This backlog is about $20bn worth of WIP inventory on Boeing's balance sheet and they have made great progress in the last couple of months to reduce it.

The key, however, is to make sure that this inventory doesn't increase because of the higher rate.  The way to do that is to make sure that 787 deliveries exceed the assembly rate each and every month so that the stored inventory is reduced to 0 (this should happen sometime around the 2nd half of 2014).

This month so far Boeing has delivered 3 787s including one straight from final assembly.  Boeing has the potential to deliver 4 more 787s straight from the Everett line (these four are already on the flightline with 2 of the four already having flown) in addition to several frames that went through change incorporation at the EMC.  While the challenges remain, delivery rates will again be dependent on Boeing's resources as well as the readiness of certain customers to accept delivery of the frames.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

787 Production Rate Steadily Increasing

The 787 production rate is steadily increasing as Boeing looks to load a new 787 into the assembly tooling in the two assembly bays at Everett once every 7 days (at least for the next one month).  ZA272 (LN 86, SP-LRC) for Polish LOT is due to load into position 1 in 40-26 on Oct. 11.  One week later on Oct. 18, ZA273 (LN 87, SP-LRD) also for LOT will load in position 1 in 40-24.  Finally on Oct. 25 ZA274 (LN 88, SP-LRE) will load in position 1 in 40-26. This rate (excluding Charleston built 787s) is about 4 per month.  Charleston looks to be running at about 0.66 airplanes every month (2 airplanes every 3 months) though it is expected that they will hit one per month shortly.  Given these rates, Boeing is very close, if not already there, at producing 787s at a rate of 5/month.

The issues facing them is now clearing the backlog both at Everett and Charleston. Between the two delivery centers there are 16 787s that are ready for pre-flight or are into their test flight activities.  Boeing has already delivered 3 787s this month but tentatively have 9 more deliveries scheduled between Oct. 18 and Oct. 26th. It is possible for these 9 aircraft to be delivered but it is all dependent on both factors that are within Boeing's control (technical issues, allocation of resources needed to prepare and test fly the assembled 787s) as well as factor's out of Boeing's control (dealing with mercurial customers such as Air India, Qatar Airways and the country of China).  Several handovers should be a no brainer: Ethiopian Airlines (2), United Airlines (1), ANA (1) and LAN (1).  That is 5 airplanes right there.  The ones that are questionable are Qatar Airways (2), Air India (1) and Hainan Airlines (1), and China Southern (1). With the Chinese carriers, the issue is the certification from CAAC (China's Civil Aviation Authority).  It is unknown what the issues despite FAA and EASA certification.  CAAC has to certify the 787 for use by Chinese carriers.

Lastly, Boeing has pulled out two 787s from 40-26.  ZA271 (LN 78 (SP-LRB) for Polish LOT went to the paint hangar at Everett and ZA432 (LN 79, B-2730) for Hainan Airlines was pulled out to the 40-51 ramp area. Given the extended time that these two airplanes spent in final assembly I expect that there are very few to no assembly tasks remaining on these frames.  Additionally ZA511 (LN 63, JA816A) for ANA conducted taxi runs but could not perform its first flight due to weather consideration as Boeing has stringent weather requirements for B-1 flights.