Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bankruptcy Judge OK's AMR's Purchase of 787

A Federal Bankruptcy judge approved of AMR's revised contracts for aircraft purchases today.  This now clears the way for the airline to finalize the 787 contract with Boeing.  The revised contract now pushes deliveries of the first 787s to November of 2014 and splits to order of 42 aircraft roughly in half: 20 787-8 and 22 787-9.  AMR also has 58 options on the 787 but there is no word on when those options expire.

In other news, the JTSB is now saying that the lithium-ion battery on the ANA 787 was not overcharged and had, in fact, seen its voltage drop to almost zero according to the flight data recorders.  This is similar to the JAL 787 incident except there wasn't a fire.  The JTSB is now going to be looking at other components that may have contributed to the incident similar to what the NTSB is doing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

787 battery investigation continuing but not sure when Dreamliners will fly again.

As the NTSB and the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) conduct separate but loosely coordinated investigations into the two 787 battery incident's, there is still uncertainty about when the 787s will return to the skies.

The NTSB announced on January 20th that the battery on the JAL 787 in Boston did not exceed the 32 volts it was designed to handle.  This statement seems to indicate that the NTSB does not consider the lithium-ion battery the culprit in the JAL fire and is looking at other components of the battery system including the charger.  The JTSB investigators have suggested that the issue on the ANA 787 was due to the battery being over-charged. 

Here's the text of the NTSB's latest statement:

NTSB Provides Third Investigative Update on Boeing 787 Battery Fire in Boston

January 20

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today released a third update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit has been examined in the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington. The battery was x-rayed and CT scans were generated of the assembled battery. The investigative team has disassembled the APU battery into its eight individual cells for detailed examination and documentation. Three of the cells were selected for more detailed radiographic examination to view the interior of the cells prior to their disassembly. These cells are in the process now of being disassembled and the cell's internal components are being examined and documented.

Investigators have also examined several other components removed from the airplane, including wire bundles and battery management circuit boards. The team has developed test plans for the various components removed from the aircraft, including the battery management unit (for the APU battery), the APU controller, the battery charger and the start power unit. On Tuesday, the group will convene in Arizona to test and examine the battery charger and download nonvolatile memory from the APU controller. Several other components have been sent for download or examination to Boeing's facility in Seattle and manufacturer's facilities in Japan.

Finally, examination of the flight recorder data from the JAL B-787 airplane indicate that the APU battery did not exceed its designed voltage of 32 volts.

In accordance with international investigative treaties, the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile have appointed accredited representatives to this investigation. Similarly, the NTSB has assigned an accredited representative to assist with the JTSB's investigation of the Jan. 15 battery incident involving an All Nippon Airways B-787. Both investigations remain ongoing.

Further investigative updates on the JAL B-787 incident will be issued as events warrant. To be alerted to any updates or developments, please follow the NTSB on Twitter at

This may indicated that the battery system on the 787 may suffer from not one but two different issues and may pose a difficult challenge for Boeing to get the airplanes flying again.

Boeing is pushing to get the airplanes back in the sky and have indicated to customers that they have a plan in work to present to the FAA.  Given that the investigation in Japan and the US have not concluded the root cause of either incident nor has the FAA signed off on any corrective measures, one has to deduce that the Boeing plan is more of a temporary preventative measure which would entail frequent checks of the battery system rather than any permanent fix or redesign of the battery system.

Despite all the publicity surrounding the battery issue, Boeing's 787 customers see no changes in the delivery plans despite Boeing's hold on deliveries. Norwegian says they still expect their first 787 to be delivered in April (on lease from ILFC) according to information provided to them by Boeing.  Meanwhile Boeing continues 787 production with another 787 entering final assembly on January 23.  The Everett and Charleston flightlines will be filling up quickly and Boeing maybe hard-pressed to clear that backlog when they have the green light to fly the 787 again but it will all depend on what the NTSB and the FAA have to say at the end.

I anticpate some good news for the 787 program tomorrow.  A bankruptcy judge in New York is expected to have a hearing on the restructured (renegotiated) aircraft purchase contracts that American Airlines will present.  I think it may be approved tomorrow and if so then Boeing can add 42 787s (20 787-8 and 22 787-9) to their backlog by the end of this week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

FAA temporarily ground US-based 787s, foreign based 787s to follow suit

The FAA, this evening, ordered a temporary grounding of US-based 787s due to the continuing Lithium Ion battery issues.  The precipitating event was the leakage of the battery's caustic electrolytes in the forward E/E bay of ZA102 (LN 9, JA804A) during the flight in Japan yesterday.  According to Dominic Gates, in an article posted this evening, battery fluid sprayed out to distance of 12 feet away from the battery.   The electrolytes are flammable and could have easily started a fire in the lower bay.  Some of the spray was vented overboard through an outflow valve. The FAA had issues an emergency airworthiness directive requiring the grounding and inspection of all US-based 787s.  Typically other countries follow the FAA or EASA lead when they issue such directives and it is expected that other aviation regulators in the countries that fly the 787s will also ground the aircraft and follow the FAA's lead on the next actions.  The other countries include Ethiopia, Japan, India, Qatar, Chile and Poland. Japan, Poland, Qatar and Chile has already announced the grounding of the 787s under their authority and I do expect that Chile and India will follow very soon.

Here is the text of the FAA statement:

As a result of an in-flight, Boeing 787 battery incident earlier today in Japan, the FAA will issue an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) to address a potential battery fire risk in the 787 and require operators to temporarily cease operations.  Before further flight, operators of U.S.-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe.    
The FAA will work with the manufacturer and carriers to develop a corrective action plan to allow the U.S. 787 fleet to resume operations as quickly and safely as possible.
The in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The AD is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery.  The battery failures resulted in release of flammable electrolytes, heat damage, and smoke on two Model 787 airplanes.  The root cause of these failures is currently under investigation.  These conditions, if not corrected, could result in damage to critical systems and structures, and the potential for fire in the electrical compartment.
Last Friday, the FAA announced a comprehensive review of the 787’s critical systems with the possibility of further action pending new data and information.  In addition to the continuing review of the aircraft’s design, manufacture and assembly, the agency also will validate that 787 batteries and the battery system on the aircraft are in compliance with the special condition the agency issued as part of the aircraft’s certification.

United Airlines is currently the only U.S. airline operating the 787, with six airplanes in service. When the FAA issues an airworthiness directive, it also alerts the international aviation community to the action so other civil aviation authorities can take parallel action to cover the fleets operating in their own countries.

Here is the text of Boeing's statement:

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney issued the following statement today after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive that requires U.S. 787 operators to temporarily cease operations and recommends other regulatory agencies to follow suit:
"The safety of passengers and crew members who fly aboard Boeing airplanes is our highest priority.
"Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible. The company is working around the clock with its customers and the various regulatory and investigative authorities. We will make available the entire resources of The Boeing Company to assist.
"We are confident the 787 is safe and we stand behind its overall integrity. We will be taking every necessary step in the coming days to assure our customers and the traveling public of the 787's safety and to return the airplanes to service.
"Boeing deeply regrets the impact that recent events have had on the operating schedules of our customers and the inconvenience to them and their passengers."
Thus the FAA is requiring the operators to prove to the FAA that the batteries are safe to operate on their flights. I expect that other aviation regulatory agencies will require the same of the 787 operators registered in their own countries.

It is not known how long the 787s will be out of service but as a point of reference, the FAA grounded the DC-10 in 1979 after a horrific crash of an American Airlines DC-10 in Chicago.  Those airplanes were grounded for a month.  The seriousness of this battery issue is not fully understood at this time but it may not last as long as a month. 

The maker of the battery, GS Yuasa of Japan is under a lot of pressure to figure out what is happening with their batteries.  Everything will be examined including the manufacturing of the cells themselves as well as potential flaws in the design.  Solutions may include switching to a different type of battery, perhaps Ni-Cads but I'm not sure if that is feasible.

In terms of production, I don't believe that Boeing will stop production and assembly of the 787 though they will not be able to carry out any test flights until they are cleared to do so by the FAA.  The ramps at Everett and Charleston will fill up if the emergency AD lasts more than a month.  What is not known is how this will affect the planned ramp up of the 787s later this year.

One area that may see an effect is the on going labor negotiations between Boeing management and SPEEA.  Already SPEEA has flowated the idea of extending the already expired contract. According the the proposal from SPEEA's web site, they propose to roll the items to which both sides have agreed to into the existing contract and extending the current contract another four years.  Boeing may be advised to take this offer as they can ill aford a strike at this juncture.  Here's the text from SPEEA's web site:

With the desire to focus all attention on solving the emergent issues with the 787, 
the SPEEA Professional and Technical Negotiation Teams today (Jan. 16) the union representing engineers and technical workers today (Jan. 16) proposed incorporating areas of agreement from ongoing negotiations into existing contracts and extending our Boeing contracts for another four years.

This “best and final” offer by SPEEA, IFPTE Local 2001, was presented as negotiations with Boeing resumed at 1 p.m. with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) at the SeaTac Hilton. 

SPEEA’s unprecedented offer would free Boeing and 23,000 engineers and technical workers from protracted and increasingly contentious negotiations that appear headed for a strike. It also allows the company and our technical workforce to focus on 
reaffirming confidence and proving the 787 
is the reliable and safe product employees know it to be. Completing negotiations also helps Boeing stay focused on supporting customers, engineering the 767 tanker, 737 MAX, increasing 737 and 777 production rates and the other products needed for our national defense.

“These negotiations have been going on for more than a year,” said Tom McCarty, SPEEA president and Professional Team member. “At this point, we should move forward with the items upon which we can agree, and leave the status quo in place for the remaining items.”

In addition to the proposed contract extension, SPEEA requested that Boeing continue to meet under the auspices of FMCS mediation to tackle the difficult issues that have proven so divisive in these negotiations.

“Our hope is that we can work collaboratively to find solutions in a data-rich environment outside of the constraints of the collective bargaining process” said Ryan Rule, Professional Team member. 

In making the proposal, SPEEA agreed to accept Boeing’s funding mechanism for the Ed Wells Partnership training program.  The status quo proposal continues to offset company medical costs through annual deductible increases based on salary growth.  To put to rest the pension issue, a major point of contention, SPEEA proposes to accept the same pension proposal that Boeing negotiated with the International Association of Machinists (IAM District 751). Finally, the contract extension offer is made with the understanding Boeing recognizes same-sex survivor pension benefits pursuant to Washington state law. 

“With our contracts put to rest, we can all roll up our sleeves and work the issues facing the 787 and Boeing,” said Sandy Hastings, Technical Team member. “SPEEA members know this is a great airplane, and we are eager to prove this to our customers, the flying public and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).”

SPEEA and Boeing started meeting in April to negotiate new contracts for 15,550 engineers and 7,400 technical workers. In October, engineers rejected Boeing’s initial offer by 95.5 percent. Technical workers rejected the company’s offer by 97 percent.  Existing contracts expired Nov. 25. Since resuming talks Jan. 9 after a month-long FMCS-imposed recess, members increased preparations for a possible strike. A 40-day strike in 2000 by SPEEA stopped deliveries and caused major factory and service bottlenecks at Boeing plants around the country.

The issues facing the 787 are extremely serious but they can be overcome.  The biggest hit will be to the 787s reputation and reliability.  Boeing will need to focus 110% of its talent and resources on fixing these issues and demonstrating that the 787 is a safe aircraft not just to their customers but to the traveling public.  I do hope that the FAA initiated review will get to the bottom of these problems and find solutions to them.  In the meantime, I'll continue to track the production of the 787 but I don't expect to see flights for another few weeks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

ANA 787 makes emergency landing after smoke appears in cabin.

UPDATE 2: Report now that Japan Airlines is temporarily grounding all 787s as well.

UPDATE: ANA has told the local Japanese media NHK that they are grounding all 17 787s for inspection.  The report of smoke is as of yet unconfirmed but the aicraft is questions is ZA102 (LN 9, JA804A) which was delivered on January 14, 2012 (exactly a year ago) and first flew on January 19, 2011.

Reports are coming out of Japan of another 787 incident this time there was smoke in cabin while the aircraft was in flight and lead to an emergency landing in Takamatsu in Western Japan.  The passengers evacuated via deployed emergency slides.  There is an unconfirmed report that cockpit indicators showed a battery failure. It is unknown which aircraft it was or when it was delivered.

There is a further unconfirmed report that ANA has ordered all 787 grounded for emergency inspections.  I'll update this story as more information becomes known.

Monday, January 14, 2013

American and Boeing closer to finalizing 787/737MAX deals

In a proposal revealed by Flightglobal's Stephen Trimble, AMR has proposed to finalize the 787 and 737MAX deals (both currently a purchase agreement) by the end of the month with some modifications.  With regards to the 787 there are two modifications:

1) Of the 42 787s that AMR intends to order, 20 will be for the 787-8 and 22 for the 787-9.  Previously AMR was going to order 42 787-9.
2) The first scheduled delivery of the 787-9 will be restored to the original 2014 time (November 2014).  The delivery time frame had slipped to beyond 2014 due to the production issues at Boeing.

This is just a proposal that AMR has to approval from the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District in New York.  The hearing is  to take place on January 23 and if the court (and creditors) gives its approval.  The firm order can be placed before the end of January for 42 787s and 100 737MAX.  Other changes to the purchase agreements includes a lower price on the737MAX and adding 60 737MAX options.  AMR will also have 58 787 options. that will be part of the contract.

AMR wold have to have negotiated the terms of the final contract with Boeing before filing the motion the the bankruptcy court and having the contract firmed before the end of the month so it does seem that Boeing is on board with AMR.

Friday, January 11, 2013

FAA to carry out detailed review of 787 electrical system,Boeing to continue to produce, assemble and deliver Dreamliners during review

The FAA and Boeing announced that the government will carry out a detailed review of the design, manufacture, and assembly of the electrical and power distribution systems abroad the 787.

Boeing has told me that this review does not affect the production, assembly and delivery of the 787s nor does it ground the 787s currently in service. Boeing did conduct a ferry flight of one 787 to Charleston after being painted in Ft. Worth and had planned to do a first flight of another 787 today (put off to tomorrow probably). Thus Boeing continues with operations as usual and the operators continue to fly the aircraft. today ANA did initiate service between San Jose and Tokyo using the 787. However, this action will delay the efforts of Boeing to certify the aircraft for ETOPS 330.

Possible results from the review can include:

1) redesign of components
2) changes in manufacturing processes and improved quality control
3) nothing

The last option is unlikely to happen and it is all but certain that there will changes coming. The question is what are the nature of the changes and what affect will it have on production and delivery as well as the program's bottom line which is already in the red?

Both Boeing, the DOT and the FAA went to great pains to reiterate during the announcement today that the aircraft is safe and reliable but observers do question that assessment given that the FAA is conducting the review in light of the electrical issues and the battery fire that the in service 787s have experienced to date. I do believe that at the end of the day there will be changes that could add to the cost of production of the 787 and may add delays to the planned ramp up to 10/month.

There is no timetable for the conclusion of the review and Michael Huerta did say that the length and any changes that the FAA will require will be dependent on the data that the agency collects and analyzes from Boeing and the suppliers.

A source told me that he feel that the investigation will either validate the design or find issues which they will fix and he welcomes the investigation. It is a serious enough issue to look into but he also thinks that the FAA won't find anything that won't require anything more than tweaks or adjustments to quality control and should not be a show stopper. He isn't losing sleep over the investigation.

In the meantime the battery fire on ZA183 and the fuel leak on her sister ship the following day has generated such a media frenzy that new outlets are now reporting on issues such as cracked windshields,and oil leaks. These are issues that occur on airplanes all over the world and are more of a nuisance than a public safety issue. The media jumped on every little squawk that occurred since the fire. My feelings is that the media has decided to make newsworthy, simple issues that occur everyday on airplanes around the world simply because they were bored and needed to sell papers. There is simply no need to to repot a cracked wind shield or a simple oil leak for any other reason except to jump on the bandwagon with those how are shrilling that the 787 is an unsafe airplane when in reality it is not.

At the end of the day the FAA will make recommendations for manufacturing, quality control, and/or design tweaks to make the electrical system safer and more reliable.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2nd JAL 787 suffers another incident, NTSB releases 787 fire preliminary findings

Another eventful day for Boeing and the 787.  In a surreal twist from yesterday's events, another JAL 787 in Boston experienced a fuel leak mishap as it was taxiing to the departure runaway for the return flight to Tokyo.  According to news reports, the aircraft leaked about 40 gallons of fuel by the time it returned to the terminal.  Maintenance crews inspected the aircraft and JAL 007 then departed at around 4pm for Tokyo after a delay of 4 hours.

The aircraft from yesterday's incident (ZA183) is still in Boston as the NTSB assigned two more investigators to team looking into the event from yesterday.  The team said that the lithium ion battery fire did cause extensive damage in the battery pack area and the damage was confined to no more than 20 inches away from the source.  These batteries are used to start the APU.  Boeing in a separate statement that this incident is not related to the other electrical issues that the 787 has faced.

However, Jon Ostrower reported that United Airlines, while inspecting the lithium ion batteries in one of their 787s, found that the wiring to the batteries were incorrectly connected.  This does not mean that the same condition existed in ZA183 or caused the fire but it may it disturbing nonetheless and would be looked into as a possible cause of the fire by the NTSB.  The battery fire may be a design issue with the battery, a one off manufacturing flaw, or incorrect installation or maintenance of the battery among the many root causes that the investigators have to examine. Despite the two incidents in two days, 787s are still in use by customers around the world and Boeing flew ZA430 (LN 73, B-2728) flew a function check flight. Though Boeing is still working with Chinese regulators to certify the 787 for use by that country's airlines.  China Southern is still expecting it's first 787 in March though it is unknown if the fire will set back those plans.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Japan Airlines 787 suffers fire in aft electrical bay

The most recently delivered 787 to Japan Airlines (ZA183, L/N 84, JA829J delivered on Dec. 20, 2012) suffered a small but intense fire in the aircraft's aft electrical bay less than a half an hour after landing at Boston's Logan International Airport. The aircraft had its first flight on Dec. 7, 2012 and conducted 3 test flights after completing final assembly in Everett. The passengers and crew had already deplaned by the time a maintenance worker smelled smoke in the cabin. Mass port and Boston FD responded to the fire to find smoke in the bay and had the fire under control a short time later.

Initial reports indicate that a battery exploded but it unclear if that happened because of the fire or was the cause of the fire. The NTSB has dispatched a team of investigators to Boston to determine the cause. Reports also indicate that there was a minor injury to one firefighter. Jon Ostrower reports in the Wall Street Journal that the fire may have been exacerbated by damage to the LiON battery by a fire ax.

The aft electrical bay has been a source of problems for the 787 since a fire on ZA002 a little over two years ago forced an emergency landing in Laredo, Tx and set back deliveries by 6 months. In the last few months, there has been an increasing number of in service 787s experiencing electrical issues, some in the aft electrical bay. The airlines that have reported electrical issues include United, Air India, Qatar and LAN. Today's fire is by far the most serious of the problems. One cannot ascribe these issues to teething problems as it now seems that the problems may be far more serious than initially thought but hat determination must await the NTSB report.

It is unclear what affect this fire will have on production, testing and delivery of new 787s from Everett and Charleston though ZA512 for ANA did fly not 1 but 2 test flights today well after the fire had occurred. I do suspect Boeing will continue production and testing while the investigation is on going unless the FAA orders a grounding.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

787 Looking Back and Looking Forward: Part 2, 2013 Look Ahead

Now that Boeing has put to bed a very successful 2012 which includes regaining the title as the top commercial aircraft producer (thanks in part to the 787 deliveries that exceeded forecast), what is in store for the Dreamliner program in 2013?

There are several milestones for the 787 program coming up in the year.  Among those are:

Assembly and 1st flight of the first 787-9.  Assembly should start around early June and I anticipate that aircraft will be out about 1 month later to begin gauntlet testing in the run up for first flight in late summer or early fall. I expect Boeing to have 3 airplanes flying the certification testing and will be refurbished and delivered to customers after the planned 6 month test flight program is concluded.  Boeing is still aiming for first delivery to Air New Zealand in mid 2014.

Launch of the 787-10 variant with significant orders from major Boeing customers which may include British Airways, Qatar Airways and others.

Production and Delivery
Boeing had executed extremely well on its plan to increase 787 production from 1.5/month to 5/month at the end of the year.  Boeing's plan for production in 2013 was laid out in a conference call to investors. The plan is for Boeing to maintain the current 5/month rate through the middle of 2013 (end of June, perhaps) at which point they will break rate and go to 7/month and finally break rate again in late 2013 to the final 10/month rate.

How many can Boeing build in 2013 and how many they can deliver are two different numbers.  There is a lag between the break in rate and when the first aircraft assembled at the new rate is delivered.  Thus it is a couple of months before the increase in production rate translates to an increase in the delivery rate. 

Production Forecast:
Thus for the production rate Boeing would see a build rate of 30 787s for the first 6 months of 2013 (5/month for 6 months), followed by a build rate of 35 787s for the following 5 months (7/month for 5 months). Followed by a build rate in December of 10/month. Therefore, this total indicates that Boeing is capable of assembling a total of 75 787s during 2013.

Delivery Forecast:
I am going to attempt to quantify Boeing deliveries for 2013 but I have to make certain assumptions:

1) Boeing will produce at a rate of 5/month through June, 2013 then break to 7/month starting in July, 2013 and maintain that through November 2013.  In December 2013 Boeing will move to 10/month.  This is based on currently available information.

2) I'm assuming that there would be 9 week lag between the break from 5/month to 7/month, therefore the first 787 to deliver at 7/month would be in September, 2013.  Even though there is a break in production rate in December to 10/month this rate won't translate to a 10/month delivery rate until 2014.

3) The numbers don't account for production of 787-9s for testing purposes.  I am only looking at deliveries of 787s to customers in 2013.

4) As a point of reference, the first 787 for Royal Brunei Airlines is expected to be delivered around September 1, 2013 according to the airline.  I am assuming that September will be the first month of 7 Dreamliner deliveries from the final assembly lines.

5) Since I don't have the firing order for L/N 131 and beyond I am assuming the following deliver rates for the remainder: 4 aircraft in September and 7 each in the last three months of 2013.  This is a total of 25.  L/N 128 to L/N 130 will assumed to be delivered in September as well for a total of 7 aircraft delivered in that month.

6) Boeing will deliver 12 787s that will undergo change incorporation but this number may grow to 15.  As of January 1, 2013, Boeing has 26 787s that are under going or will under go change incorporation in preparation for delivery to customers.  This includes the last three test 787-8 (L/N 4 to L/N 6 with the last one already well into the change incorporation cycle.

7) I am assuming that all 787s earmarked for the Chinese carriers thus far will be delivered in 2013 (deliveries to start in March). I am also assuming that L/N 6 and L/N 17 will deliver but the customers are unknown at this time.  L/N 17 was originally earmarked for Royal Air Maroc but will be delivered to another 787 customer instead.

Given these assumption let's break up the deliveries between aircraft coming straight off the final assembly line and those that still require re-work through the Everett Modification Center or in San Antonio.

I am projecting that Boeing can deliver 76 787s from all three final assembly lines during 2013. As a point of reference, the first 787 for Royal Brunei Airlines should enter final assembly around late July and deliver about 2 months later in very early September.  I am projecting that from September to December that the delivery rate will be 7/month.

For the rework airplanes, I am projecting 12 787s that are going through the EMC and San Antonio (ZA006) will be delivered in 2013 but Boeing may be able to squeeze 3 more (ZA230, ZA231, and ZA115) if the modification process becomes more efficient.  Boeing is now going to work on 787s that need more time at the EMC due to all the re-work that has to be performed. The tables below summarizes my projections:

While I try to be as accurate as I can the projections are my opinion and actual delivery numbers more likely differ from my estimate.  There are unforseen issues that can crop upo similar to the issues that held up deliveries to Air India, Qatar Airways and the Chinese carriers.  Additionally, labor strife may once again become a hinderance to deliveries this year if the engineers of SPEEA go on strike.  Word is that a strike may be authorized in Februrary.  Boeing and SPEEA are to go back to the Federal Mediator on January 9th to try and come to an agreement.  If one isn't forth coming then the strike will severely slow down production of all Boeing jetliners as well as significantly slow down the testing and certification of the 787-9.  Boeing can make up some work by using managment engineers but it won't be enough to fill the void. The other issue is the need to manage the production rate increases carefully.  2012 showed that Boeign can do this but they were very measured in their approach last year.  In 2013 Boeing will be more aggresive with the 787 rate increase (two rate jumps from 5 to 7 and then from 7 to 10) and any issues can mean serious trouble not unlike the production snafus in the late 1990s.

Boeing ended 2012 on an excellent note by regaining it's former position as the top commercial aircraft producer (thanks to the 46 787 deliveries).  Boeing is poised to continue that dominance but there will be issues that Boeing will need to resolve if 2013 is to be more successful in 787 deliveries than 2012.  We'll see how it tuens out.