Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Boeing readies more ANA 787s but AI planes are in limbo

Where to begin as there's a lot of new stuff.

First let's take a look at the positives.  Boeing has 4 787s being readied at Everett for ANA.  These are ZA506 (LN 47, JA809A), ZA507 (LN 48, JA810A), ZA508 (LN 51, JA811A), and ZA509 (LN 56, JA812A).  ZA 508 is currently in the paint hangar but this plane had spent some time at EMC so I do believe that it is getting its aqueous wash and paint job done before being pulled to the fuel dock for fueling tests then to the flightline for mini gauntlet, engine start and first flight.  Thus Boeing will have 4 787s ready for ANA in June maybe more.  There has been a line move and currently the 4 787s that are inside 40-26 are ZA135 (LN 66, position 4), ZA118 (LN 67, position 3), ZA536 (LN 68, position 2) and ZA119 (LN 69, position 1).  All but ZA536 are for ANA with ZA536 going to LAN.  It is conceivable but not certain that ZA135 can go straight to paint and flightline with its engines and start preparation for delivery in about 2 weeks and can possibly be delivered at the end of June.  This will be a major milestone for Boeing when it happens. Also ZA461 (LN 58) has made an appearance at the Everett Fuel Dock and I believe that this airplane is being prepared for delivery.  I expect it will go into the paint hangar shortly before re-emerging for pre-delivery tests and final delivery to Qatar Airways in June and on display at Farnborough in July. Lastly, ZA237 (LN 46) has filed a flight plan fro Charleston to Fort Worth so this airplane can be painted for Air India.  It is currently still in Charleston delayed by weather in the Dallas area.  This last point is a nice lead into....

The Negatives

Only one (HUGE) negative which Air India. and here I just don't know where to start my rant.  I (and probably 99.9% of of the world) thought that the issue of compensation to Air India for the delays was settled.  According to the Govt. of India it is not and thus Boeing may have a dozen 787s for Air India sitting on the ramps at Everett and Charleston waiting to be delivered.  The Air India debacle is a case study on how not to run an airline particularly when you are government owned and you have bureaucrats who know nothing of the airline industry making key decisions.  ZA233 (LN 29, VT-AND) is all ready to be delivered and I suspect so is ZA236 (LN 35, VT-ANH).  How long it will take to complete the negotiations on compensation is anyone's guess but this is Air India attempting to have Boeing pay for the decisions made by the carrier mistakes once again.  The pilots strike over who flies the Dreamliner is also bleeding the carrier so they need money and they're going to Boeing for that money. This saga won't end until Boeing has delivered the 27th and final 787 to Air India and washes their hands of them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Boeing flies first SC built 787 and Air India will take delivery this month

Boeing has successfully flown the first North Charleston built 787 today (LN 46) for Air India.  The B1 flight flight lasted about 5 hours as it flew off the South Carolina coast.  The plane will later fly to Texas where it will be painted and then return to Charleston for further test flights and delivery to Air India at the end of June.

Here's Boeing's press release:

Boeing Conducts Inaugural Flight of First 787 Built in South Carolina
Dreamliner on track for mid-year delivery to Air India 
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today marked another 787 milestone as the first Dreamliner built in South Carolina completed its first flight. Piloted by Tim Berg and Randy Neville, the airplane successfully conducted a five-hour test flight. More than 5,000 Boeing South Carolina employees watched a live broadcast of the airplane as it took off from Charleston International Airport. 
"This is a proud moment for our Boeing South Carolina team and for Boeing," said Jack Jones, vice president/general manager, Boeing South Carolina. "In April, we gathered on the flightline to watch this airplane roll out of final assembly. Today, we watched as this airplane successfully completed its first production flight - one step closer to delivering our first South Carolina-built 787 Dreamliner to our customer." 
Today's production flight test profile tested the airplane's controls and systems in a series of scenarios designed to verify the airplane operates as designed. The tests occurred in all stages of flight beginning prior to taxi, through final landing and taxi. 
During the flight, the crew checked the functionality of onboard systems at high and medium altitudes. They also checked backup and critical safety elements including cabin pressurization, avionics, and navigation and communications systems. In addition, they shut down and re-started each engine during flight. 
"First flight of this South Carolina-built airplane is a significant achievement and our teammates did a great job working together to make this happen," said Berg. "The airplane performed exactly as we expected." 
The airplane will be flown to Ft. Worth, Texas to be painted with Air India's livery before returning to Boeing South Carolina for a mid-2012 delivery.

Speaking of Air India, 787 and delivery...this soap opera couldn't get any weirder.  It was reported (in the Indian press and picked up by the local US press) that the Aviation Minister, Ajit Singh, was not going to travel to the US for the delivery because it was being pushed back two weeks.  Now today Air India says they will take delivery of the first 787 at the end of May and that Singh's cancellation was due to the on going Air India-pilots saga.

Meanwhile as Air India tries to sort out its mess here's a couple of articles of interest:

Inside Boeing’s 787 Factory

Air India to get its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner by May-end  

While we're waiting for more 787 deliveries, here's some more pictures of the Blue Angels here at Long Island:

Blue Angels at Republic Airport

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012 Update - The Blues are in town

Boeing teased many people when a flightaware alert went out announcing the first flight or the 1st Charleston produced 787.  ZA237 (LN46) for Air India was supposed to fly at 3pm EST but the flight never went off.  This is possibly due to weather conditions in the area as tropical depression Alberto (first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season) was still lingering off the Georgia coast but was expected to drift to the northeast during the week.

Nonetheless, this indicates that Boeing is ready to proceed with first flight unless there is maintenance issue.

While we're waiting you can enjoy some photos of the Blue Angels that I took on Monday afternoon as they were arriving at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.

Blue Angels Arrival at Republic Airport

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

First SC built 787 scheduled to fly this Friday

It's looking like Boeing is setting to fly the first Charleston built 787 this Friday. Randy Neville, a Boeing 787 test pilot fresh from the 787 World Tour flew ZA003 from St. Louis today then left for Charleston in order to take ZA237 (LN46) on its first flight scheduled for May 18th.  Randy was on ZA001 when it went up on its first flight on Dec. 15, 2009.  Now he's tasked with taking this very special 787 into the South Carolina skies.  This airplane should deliver in mid to late June.

Currently Boeing is conducting tests on ZA506 (LN47) which is destined for ANA.  However current information is that this airplane and ZA507 (LN48) will not deliver this month and is more likely to deliver in June.  This means that only ZA233 (LN29, VT-AND) will deliver this month to Air India.

Meanwhile Boeing had its Investors Day conference today.  There was no new information out of today's conference though it seems that Boeing is now studying a 787 production rate greater than 10.  They're still planning for a rate increase this fall to 5/month.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where is Boeing's 787 inventory - May 14, 2012

I just got updated information on the location of Boeing's 787 inventory that is stored or in re-work around Everett.  The information is quie interesting as it shows that Boeing is focused on getting the late build 787s through change incorporation and out to the flightline.  Many of the 787s that are in the EMC are airplanes 49 to 58 including ones for Qatar Airways, JAL, ANA, and Ethiopian.  This shows that Boeig is focused on getting the late builds out the door first and then going back to fix the early builds which will take more time.

Meanwhile Boeing is flying ZA233 (LN 29, VT-AND) in preparation for delivery to Air India by the end of this month.  ZA237 (LN46) already has had its first engine run and Boeing is saying that its first flight should come within "days" though I expect it to be some time late this week to middle of next week.  This plane will deliver to Air India by the end oof June if not sooner though with Air India things could change given the turmoil within that airline.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 2012 787 Deliveries

I just got information from a source that Boeing MAY only deliver just 1 787 which will be ZA233 (LN 29, VT-AND) for Air India.  Given that the other two 787s (ZA506, LN 47, JA809A and ZA507, LN48, JA810A) that are on the flight line have not even flown there may be a lot of truth to this though they can still be delivered if Boeing conducts company and customer test flight over the next 3 weeks.  I am not sure for the delay but it does appear that Boeing may be setting for quite a few deliveries in June.  There has been speculation of which 787s that are in Boeing's EMC.  I've gotten some of that information and it does appear that the following ANA 787s are inside the EMC: ZA100 (LN7), ZA508 (LN 51), and ZA509 (LN 56).  Additionally there is a JAL 787 most likely ZA178 (LN 27).  There is another 787 which may be for either United or Qatar.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Another reason why Boeing will deliver 50 787s this year

Ok so I'm in the midst of having an email conversation with Saj Ahmad over at Strategic Aero about 787 deliveries when I realize (the light bulb does go off sometimes) that there is another rational for believing that Boeing can reach 50 787 deliveries this year.  It all has to do with what we know about deliveries in January 2013.

We do know that Thomson Airways is to get its first 787 ZA317 (LN92) in January 2013. We can assume that Boeing will deliver airplanes 66 to let say 90 by December 2012 (I'm assuming 2013 deliveries will start with LN 91).  That is 25 airframes right there that will go from assembly line to flight line, that is 25 787s that will not have to spend time in change incorporation.  Boeing has already delivered 8 787s this year.  So we are already at 33 787s for 2012 and we have not even touched the undelivered 787s that are sitting around Paine Field trying to finish change incorporation.

So we do know that of those 48 remaining 787s that have yet to finish assembly and change incorporation are airplanes for Air India, Qatar Airways, LAN, ANA, JAL, LOT, China Southern, Royal Air Maroc, Ethiopian Airlines and United.  These airplanes will receive at least one if not more of the 787s this year that will be undergoing change incorporation.  That is at least 10 787 deliveries from the 787 inventory at Paine.  We do know that Air India, Qatar, ANA and United will receive more than 1 but we can also add JAL and China Southern to that list (all these come from the LN 7 to LN 65 lot of 787s).  That's 6 more 787s for total of 16 coming from 787 WIP.  We also know that Air India is to receive  4 787s this year from the Charleston plant so we should add three more to the total and that gets you 19 787 deliveries from the pre-LN 66 lot of airplanes.  Thus the math is as follows:

  8 - 787 delivered so far
25 - delivery of LN 66 to LN 90 to be made in 2012
19 - delivery of 787 WIP (defined as LN 7 to LN 65 that have not yet been delivered, this is currently a total of 48 airframes).

8+25+19 = 52.

Simple, isn't it? Now we can probably added a few more for carriers like RAM, LAN, Air India, China Southern, United, Ethiopian and ANA for this year but I am unsure about how far they have to go for change incorporation.  The upshot is that Boeing is very conservative with their 787 delivery numbers for 2012.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

787 production update - May 3, 2012

787 production is starting to get interesting as there will be another line move tonight at Everett.  Boeing will push out ZA462 (LN62 for Qatar Airways) allowing the four positions to be occupied by airplanes 63, 64, 66 and 67.  The later two are planes that should not have to go through any change incorporation and will go direct from the assembly line to the flight line at Everett.  The main fuselage for airplane 67 should have been delivered last Friday night after Boeing had pushed out the first 787 to be built at Boeing Charleston.  That 787, ZA237 (LN46) is on its way to finishing the 96 assembly tasks that are left before entering gauntlet testing and first flight which is projected to take place between May 18 and May 5th.  Delivery to Air India should take place by June 30th.  Also I got confirmation that ZA239 (LN 60) and ZA240 (LN65) are both for Air India and both are being assembled at Boeing Charleston.

In other production news, I got wind of Thomson Airways deliveries of their first 3 787s.  The first airplane for Thomson will be ZA317 (LN92) which should start assembly late this year for delivery in January 2013.  This will be followed by ZA318 in February 2013 and ZA319 in March 2013.  The first and third airplanes will be based in Manchester while the second airplane will be based out of Gatwick all to support training and EIS of the company's 787.  These airplanes will carry 291 passengers of which 47 will be premium seating in 38 inch pitch seating while there will be 244 in economy in 36 and 33 inch pitch seats.

As far as deliveries this month, I fully expect 1-2 787 for ANA and 2  airplanes for Air India.

LAstly, I came across some interesting analysis with regards to deliveries of the 747-8 and 787s this year.  It is estimated that Boeing will have built, through the end of this year about 50 747-8 airplanes (F and I).  Of those 50, 9 were delivered last year leaving 41 potentially to be delivered this year.  Of those 41, 3 were for Atlas Air Cargo which they have stated that they will not take...that brings the number of deliverable aircraft to 38 for 2012.  However this number includes test airplanes that have yet to under go refurbishment including 2 for Cathay Pacific Airways and the second 747-8F built which is for NCA.  That brings the number down to 35 747-8 aircraft.  If Boeing is projecting between 70 to 85 747s and 787s to be delivered by the end of this year that means that Boeing can be in a position to deliver between 35 and 50 787s.  This is entirely possible as is starting to produce 787s that will go straight from the production line to the flight line and into testing.