Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Boeing meets 787 delivery guidance for 2014

With the delivery of the second 787 for Azerbaijan Airlines, Boeing had met their 787 delivery guidance of 110 for 2014.  The aircraft manufacturer isn't done and should be able to deliver 4 more 787s including 2 787-9s.  These aircraft all have had their first customer flights though there may be additional customer flights required and these should deliver starting early next week.

In a related note: Boeing pushed out the last 787 to be built in 2014.  The aircraft is for American Airlines and should deliver around March.

787 Full Production Table

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Boeing delivers first 787 to Avianca....finally

Update from my earlier post.   Avianca has finally taken possession of its first 787 yesterday.  The aircraft ZA665 (LN 217, N780AV) was reported at the Everett Delivery Center by sources. This indicates that the aircraft is due to depart from Everett soon.

This aircraft had a very long gestation period at Everett spending over 6 months from the start of final assembly to delivery at Everett.  It is suspected that there were seat issues but also financing issues that held up delivery.  Avianca is expected to take three more 787s before the end of the month.

Seats and Financing - hold ups to 787 deliveries in December

Boeing's aggressive 787 delivery schedule is being threatened by two issues: availability of BFE (buyer furnished equipment) namely the premium seats from Zodiac but more importantly the ability of certain airlines to fund the final payment to Boeing upon delivery.  Most of the aircraft's purchase price is paid upon delivery.  The seat issue has already shifted several deliveries into January.

For some carriers with less than stellar cashflow, obtaining the financing to fund this final payment has been tough.  In particular Avianca and Azerbaijan Airlines have had aircraft that are all set to deliver yet are still sitting on the flightlines at Everett and North Charleston.  The delivery dates have been repeatedly moved to the right and there hasn't been any further test flights nor any need for further test flights unless the delays take much longer at which point Boeing would have to fly a FCF (functional check flight) to make sure that the aircraft and it's systems still all check out.

Avianca has 4 787s on the flightline with 3 ready to be delivered.  Azerbaijan has both 787s that they ordered ready to be delivered as well.  The delays have been driven by the customers and not Boeing yet represents 6 aircraft that could be added to their year end and month end revenue totals.  Boeing is trying to keep the delivery schedule for these 6 airplanes in December and it does appear that they have time especially since the issues doesn't appear to be technical.

Monday, December 15, 2014

787 December Mid Month Report

It's already December 15th and thus far I can confirm that Boeing has delivered 5 787s thus far but I am waiting on confirmation on 3 additional deliveries to Avianca (2) and Azerbaijan Airlines (1) that are scheduled to be completed by the end of today.  With the 5 deliveries in December (thus far), Boeing has delivered 101 787s in 2014 and need 9 more to achieve their guidance of 110 deliveries.  They do have plenty of aircraft that appear to be ready to be handed over to customer as additional customer flights have taken place over the last few days.

the delayed deliveries of many of these aircraft have been attributable to different reasons including:

Delay seat deliveries from seat vendors (i.e. Zodiac) or delays in certifying the seats for installations Avianca, Etihad, American Air).  Bloomberg has an excellent article on the delays attributable to Zodiac

Financing issues (Azerbaijan Airlines).

Despite the trouble with deliveries, Boeing has still being going full tilt on production and my season adjusted calculations show that Boeing will start work on 8 787s in December while rolling out 9 from final assembly.

Lastly, the plane spotters in Abu Dhabi will get a special treat as Etihad's 1st 787-9 ZB077 (LN 229, A6-BLA) will fly to the country today, December 15th for a marketing trip.  It'll be there until the 18th and then fly back to Everett.  This aircraft still has not been delivered and has yet to take a customer flight though I don't know if the flight to Abu Dhabi wold count as a customer flight.  Boeing is still aiming to deliver this aircraft to Etihad on Dec. 31st.

787 Full Production Table

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Boeing falls short on November 787 deliveries, off to a slow start in December

Last month Boeing delivered an anemic number of 787s despite the growing backlog of aircraft at both Everett and North Charleston.  By the end of November, Boeing had delivered 96 787s for 2014 and needs to deliver a further 14 aircraft by the end of December in order to meet their goal of 110 787 deliveries for the year. The delays have pushed aircraft that were to be delivered in November to December yet almost 1/3 of the way through December Boeing has delivered only 1 787. 
According to the latest information (which changes more often than I can keep track), Boeing is looking to deliver 18 more 787s this month in addition to the 1 that has already been delivered to Air New Zealand.  I do believe that this number will eventually be trimmed down to 14 if not fewer.  Several aircraft have not had their B-1 flight as of yet despite having delivery dates later this month.  Several might also be pushed in January due to issues with customer supplied interiors and financing among other issues.  Other sources of delays maybe driven by weather conditions (B-1 flights have weather restrictions placed on them for safety sake) as well as the upcoming Holidays.  Boeing had delivered 15 787s in June of this year so it is entirely possible for them to crank out this number and I do think they can deliver 110 for the year but they do need to pick up the pace.  There are several 787s that were scheduled for delivery in December but those aircraft have already slipped into January, among them the first 787s for American Airlines and Scoot.
Among the candidates that expect deliveries this month are:
Aeromexico - 1
Air India - 1
ANA - 1
Avianca - 4 (787s that were delayed for yet unknown reasons but suspected to be interior furnishings)
Azerbaijan Airlines - 2 (rumored to have financing issues to complete the purchase, any one have any spare nickels and dimes to lend to them?)
Etihad - 1 (rumored to be delivered in January)
Japan Airlines - 2
Korean Air - 1 (terrible teen aircraft LN 11 for VIP transport but still needs to do a B-1)
Royal Air Maroc - 1 (still need to fly a B-1)
Thai - 1
TUI Travel (Arke) - 1
United Airlines - 1 (last 787-8 for UA)
Virgin Atlantic Airways - 1 (787-9, still needs to do a B-1)

A full year end review will be written up soon after the New Year followed by a 2015 Look Ahead.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Boeing announces the start of final assembly of 1st Charleston built 787-9

First Charleston Built 787-9 for United Airlines.  Boeing Photo
Boeing announced the start of final assembly on the first 787-9 to be built at their North Charleston facility and which will ultimately be delivered to United Airlines in about 3 months time.  The aircraft, ZB170 (LN270, N35953) was loaded into position 1A on November 23rd according to my sources.

Boeing is aggressively expanding its footprint in the North Charleston area and plans to build all three version of the 787 at the plant.

Here is Boeing's press release on the start of final assembly of ZB170.

Boeing South Carolina Begins Final Assembly of its First 787-9 Dreamliner

North Charleston site joins Everett, Wash., team in building newest 787

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., Nov. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) has started final assembly of the 787-9 Dreamliner at its South Carolina facility. The team began joining large fuselage sections of the newest 787 Nov. 22 on schedule, a proud milestone for the South Carolina team and another sign of stability for the program.  
The North Charleston, S.C., site joins Boeing's Everett, Wash., final assembly, which began 787-9 production in May 2013. United Airlines will take delivery of the first South Carolina-built 787-9. 
"Our team is well prepared and eager to assemble the 787-9 Dreamliner," said Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina. "Achieving this significant milestone in our final assembly operations demonstrates that we're performing well here at Boeing South Carolina. We're looking forward to delivering our first South Carolina-built 787-9 to United Airlines, and delivering 787-9s as well as 787-8s to all our customers." 
The 787-9 complements and extends the 787 family, offering airlines the ability to grow routes opened with the 787-8. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters), the 787-9 can fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 450 nautical miles (830 kilometers) with the same exceptional environmental performance – 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than the airplanes it replaces. The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passenger-pleasing features such as large, dimmable windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Charleston to start building 787-9

Since Boeing's 787 plant in North Charleston opened in 2011 it has exclusively built the 787-8.  This Sunday (Nov. 23rd) that will change when ZB170 (LN 269, N35953) is loaded into position 1A at the North Charleston plant to start the final assembly process.  The aircraft is destined for United Airlines and should be delivered sometime in March.

This is a huge milestone as the future of the 787 seems to be tied to the 787-9 and, to certain extent, the 787-10.  As the production rate increases in North Charleston there should be more 787-9s being built in North Charleston but for the first year or so most of the 787s that are built in Boeing North Charleston will be the 787-8.  In 2015 I expect the lion share of 787-9 that are delivered will be built in Everett.

Delta goes with Airbus for widebody order spurning Boeing

Leeham Co. analyst Scott Hamilton broke the news last night that Delta Airlines has decided to go with Airbus' offer of the A350-900 and A330-900 aircraft essentially rejecting Boeing's offer of the 787.  The rumor, right now, is that Airbus offered favorable delivery slots in 2017 while Boeing's delivery book for that year is completely sold out.

Interestingly Delta had inherited Northwest Airlines' 787 order when they merged in 2009.  At that point the Delta had the early delivery slots for the 787s yet over time they had elected to move those delivery slots further out to the right to around 2020 and beyond.  If they had kept those delivery slots for the 2017-2018 time frame, Delta could have had the 787-9 and at a very competitive price as well.  One has to question Delta's fleet management decisions in context of the Airbus order while still holding a 787 order with early delivery slots.

Now that they have gone with Airbus the 787 order is in limbo and, in my opinion, order that will never be delivered even though it will remain on the Boeing order book just like Virgin Atlantic's A380 order with Airbus.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boeing looks to deliver fewer than 10 787s in November

With November more than half over Boeing has recorded only 1 delivery of a 787 this month but more troubling is the continuous shifting of the delivery schedule to the right setting up what may be a very un-happy holiday season for the Boeing workers who would have to put in overtime to get these aircraft completed, tested and delivered.

Boeing can deliver 8 more aircraft this month but one of them, a 787-9 for Air New Zealand, hasn't had its first flight yet and is tentatively scheduled to be delivered around Nov. 24th.  It appears that this aircraft may fall into the December delivery time frame thus I see Boeing only delivering only a total of 8 787s this month.

Notably there are 4 787s for Avianca all of who are ready for delivery or are close to being ready for delivery but these deliveries are now not scheduled to start until December due to some unspecified issue.  Rumor has it that the 1st class seats are not FAA certified though I doubt that as all the customer supplied options such as seats come from the Boeing catalog which are FAA certified.

Also many of the 787s have yet to take their first customer flights and that schedule is also slipping to the right.

This can leave a large number of 787s hanging around Everett (not so much Charleston due to the low production output) as the Holidays come up.  This can serve to continue to increase Boeing's deferred production costs well past the $25.2bn mark as Boeing will have to pay a tremendous amount of over time to catch up in December.  If Boeing only delivers 8 total 787s in November, their YTD total would be 98 and 12 short of their goal of 110.  It is certainly possible for them to deliver 12 787s in one month; they demonstrated they can deliver a significant number of 787s in 1 month but it will come at a cost.

Additionally, they have undertaken very few B-1 flights for aircraft that are due to be delivered in December and there a re still a number of 787s that are at the EMC or on the 40-51 ramp that are finishing up traveled work.

All the while production continues at the 10/month pace though with continued traveled work issues.  Thus far they've rolled out 4 787s with a 5th due to roll out on Sunday night and they've started final assembly on 5 other air frames.  Clearly the backlog in increasing so much that Boeing will be sending 787s to Charleston for final delivery as the ramp space at Everett is shrinking.

It is plainly obvious that Boeing production issues on the 787 are far from over and I do think the only way for them to be resolved is to through more resources and money now before the issues continue to snowball.

We'll see for December brings but right now I  think it's safe to say that Boeing 787 deliveries for this month will be terrible at best.

787 Full Production Table

Monday, October 27, 2014

Boeing Delivers 200th 787

Boeing officially delivered the 200th 787 today to Qatar Airways.  The delivery was made at Everett where the aircraft was assembled and tested.  This aircraft is the 16th delivered to Qatar Airways and is the 86th Dreamliner delivered this year and the 7 delivered this month.  Boeing delivered the 100th 787 on Nov. 4th, 2013 to Japan Airlines so it too just under one year to deliver the 200th 787.  Qatar is expected to fly the aircraft away by tomorrow to Victorville, Ca.

If Boeing is able to maintain 10 deliveries per month then we should see the 300th 787 delivered around early to mid August 2015.

787 Full Production Table

Thursday, October 23, 2014

787 Mid Month Report - October, 2014

With 10 days left in the month, Boeing seems to be struggling to get production airplanes into the air for testing prior to delivery by the end of this month.  Thus far Boeing has delivered 5 787s this month but I do expect 1 more to deliver by the end of this week.  With those deliveries Boeing will hit 199 deliveries and I believe the 200th delivery will go to Qatar Airways when ZA475 (LN 207, A7-BCP) is delivered to the carrier around October 27.  Boeing is trying to deliver a total of 11 787s this month including a -9 to United Airlines.  Production flight testing seems to have slowed though it's unclear why.There are still a number of aircraft that still need to perform further Boeing and/or customer flights before they're ready for delivery within the next 10 days.

On the production front Boeing has rolled out 8 787s and started final assembly on another 8.  They will end rolling out a total of 11 787s from final assembly this month.  The inventory backlog sitting on the flightlines at Everett and Charleston won't change this month.  The schedules for many 787s deliveries have been pushed to the right.  For example, Avianca's first 787 was supposed to have been delivered in September.  It is now scheduled to be delivered in mid November.  As we move into November Boeing will change the final assembly line slightly in 40-24 (the surge line).  Instead of the 6 positions that are currently in use (0, 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4), Boeing will go back to 5 positions starting around October 29th. (0, 1, 2, 3, 4).  I believe this is in preparation of winding down the surge activities by 2016 and moving all Everett 787 production to 40-26.

Production is slow and 787 inventory is growing.  While I don't have any concrete information as to why 787 deferred production costs are rising ($25.2bn through the end of the third quarter), I feel that it is undoubtedly due to the traveled work following all these airplanes.  For a 787 to go from the start if final assembly to delivery takes almost 4 months and therein lies the problem for the increase in deferred production costs.  These airplanes, going through the production system at Everett and Charleston, have to spend a lot of time finishing assembly tasks after final assembly is completed.  The promised efficiencies on the final assembly level have yet to materialize but Boeing insists they will start turning profitable on the 787 program in 2015. Part of the increase in production cost is due to the introduction of the 787-9.  These aircraft had to spend time at the EMC undergoing change incorporation as well as finishing traveled work.  As the aircraft is more integrated into the 787 production system and change incorporation is no longer necessary, cost to produce the 787-9 should come down  and should aid the overall reduction of deferred production costs in 2015.

I believe that in order to gauge that is to closely examine the time it takes for Boeing to get a plane from start of final assembly to delivery.  We need to see the aircraft coming out of final assembly without any traveled work.  This means that the 787 goes from the final assembly hall to the paint hangar then directly to the flightline to start production testing.  It also means that Boeing minimizes company and customer test flights which indicates improved build quality.  Currently Boeing has 32 787s (including the the "Terrible Teens" but not including those that are in production) in Everett.  This rising inventory needs to be cleared faster than the current rate which can be tracked on the production Trends spreadsheet.  Simply, Boeing needs to deliver 787s faster than then they are rolling them out at the factory.

787 Full Production Table

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Boeing rolls out the first 787 for American Airlines.

Boeing rolled out the first 787 for American Airlines on Oct. 6th.  The aircraft was originally supposed to be delivered in November is now slated for delivery on December.  It is on the 40-51 Ramp finishing up assembly activities followed by painting.

Around KPAE 10-7-14 (in the fog)
First 787 for American Airlines, Photo by MOONM
Additionally Boeing has finally delivered one of 3 787-8 flight test aircraft to a customer.  The Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (Mexican Air Force) took possession of ZA006, the last test flight aircraft. After undergoing extensive re-work and re-build, the aircraft was bought up to FAA certificate standards though I am not sure if it has it full passenger interior installed or not. The aircraft is at the Charleston Delivery Center and is supposed to fly away tomorrow Oct. 9th).

ZA006 at the Charleston Delivery Center, Photo by reader
Boeing 787 production looks to be in ok shape but it is taking quite a bit of time to deliver the 787 into customer hands. I have observed a continuing movement of delivery dates to the right of the schedule that at this point I think Boeing will deliver about 10 to 11 787s in October. This is not a bad number but it only gradually reduces the built up inventory. I examined the average number of days it took Boeing to get an aircraft from final assembly to delivery.  I took out outliers or aircraft where I did not have complete information. The results may surprise you:

February, 2014 - 114.8 days
March, 2014 - 117.6 days
April, 2014 - 126.4 days
May, 2014 - 112.4 days
June, 2014 - 206.5 days
July, 2014 - 141.4 days
August, 2014 - 117.7 days
September, 2014 - 127.5 days

These averages need to be put into proper context.  They include the 787-9 (from June on)  These early 787-9s had to go through change incorporation and required more build time compared to the 787-8 thus the number of days fro the start of final assembly to delivery were  higher for these airplanes and distorted the results. Here are the average number of days it took to build the 787-8:

February, 2014 - 114.8 days
March, 2014 - 117.6 days
April, 2014 - 126.4 days
May, 2014 - 112.4 days
June, 2014 - 125.6 days
July, 2014 - 121.1 days
August, 2014 - 117.7 days
September, 2014 - 118.4 days

As you can observe the average time it takes to build the 787-8 (this includes both Charleston and Everett) is fairly stable.  As Boeing get more familiar with building the 787-9 and the need for change incorporation goes away as well as the need for extensive time  to finish traveled work, we should see build times for both versions of the 787 go down to below 100 days.

There is still no known timetable when the stabilization of the production system will occur and it appears that Boeing is continuing to struggle with traveled work which has been the bane of the 787 program currently.  There has been flashes of hope for a 90 day rate or lower (start of final assembly to contractual delivery).  For example Boeing delivered a 78 to Tui Travel in 84 days from Everett and Charleston delivered a 78 in 86 day to Kenya Airways.  2015 should bring much required and welcomed improvements to the 787 production system.

787 Full Production Table

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Boeing 787 September deliveries end third quarter on a high note.

September Month End Review

Boeing delivered 11 787s in September thus ending the third quarter on a high note after a a slow start in July.  For the quarter, Boeing delivered 31 787s.  The yearly total thus far is 80 aircraft in 2014 (includes one aircraft delivered on Oct.1) and 194 since deliveries began a little over three years ago.

The target is still 110 deliveries in 2014 and they can easily make that with and average of 10 aircraft delivered a month for the next 3 months.  Earlier I had projected that Boeing can deliver around 120 aircraft.  Clearly that number can't be reached but they do have the ability to deliver between 110 and 122.  787s deliveries were lackluster in July but rebounded nicely in August with 13 deliveries and maintained a strong pace with 10 in September.

In terms of efficiency. Charleston delivered 3 Dreamliners and rolled out only 2.  That translates to and efficiency of .667 (the lower the number the more efficient the plant is.  The Everett plane had an efficiency rating of 1 (rolled out 7 and delivered 7).

Future Deliveries

Deliveries included 3 787-9 (one each to United, ANA and Air New Zealand).

Planned deliveries for October are looking to be on the order of 11 to 13 aircraft.  This includes the 10th and final 787-8 for Ethiopian that is company owned which was delivered on October 1st.  Ethiopian will be taking 3 or 4 more 787-8s on lease from AerCap over the next year or so.  Boeing should break 200 deliveries easily though it's difficult to speculate which aircraft/customer will have that honor.

Deliveries should include:

1 787-9 to Virgin Atlantic (expected around Oct. 6)
1 787-9 to Etihad Airways
1 787-9 to United Airlines
1 787-8 to Fuerza Aérea Mexicana (Mexican Air Force) (around Oct. 8th)
1 787-8 each to Avianca, Kenya Airways, Xiamen, Thai Airways (leased from AerCap), Royal Jordanian (leased from CIT Leasing), and Air Canada
2 787-8 to Qatar Airways

Of course much of this depends on the preparations and readiness of the individual aircraft to be delivered including undertaking ground testing and production flight tests s well as the readiness of the customer to induct them into service.  Of the aircraft mentioned in the above list, three have yet to conduct their B-1 flights.


Etihad 787-9 on 40-51 Ramp. Photo Courtesy of Brandon Ferris

Japan Airlines 787-9 in the EMC. Photo Courtesy of Brandon Ferris

In terms of production, Boeing should start final assembly on 10 to 11 787s this month. 4 will start on on the main line in 40-26, 3 on the surge line in 40-24 and 3 to 4 on the Charleston line.  They should roll out 10 this month but it is key that current month deliveries exceed the number of aircraft rolled out in order to reduce the carried inventory.  Boeing had built up a large 787 inventory during the first half of 2014 that they are now trying to catch up to deliveries in the second half.  They did a good job in the third quarter but the 4th quarter will be critical in reducing it further.

Boeing is also aiming to move the aged inventory (test flight aircraft plus the early build 787s (terrible teens).  ZA006 will be delivered to the Mexican Air Force and ZA003 will be donated to the Museum of Flight in November.


In the meantime, Boeing is continuing with several sales campaigns which can yield some significant orders for the 787.  However late last month they booked a cancellation for 15 787-9 for Air Berlin as part of a cost cutting move.  Interestingly, at the same time Boeing booked an unidentified order for 15 787-9s.  It is widely believed that the unidentified customer is Etihad which will use the aircraft either for itself or for one of the partner airlines in which the carrier has a financial interest.  This is reinforced by the fact that Air Berlin didn't pay any penalties for the order cancellation because Etihad took up the order.  This cancellation may have ramifications for a another sales campaign that is currently on going.  It is expected that Virgin Atlantic will exercise 5 787-9 options and I wouldn't be surprised if they make that announcement when they pick up their first 787-9 from Everett on Tuesday.  Sir Richard Branson also indicated that he is interested in the 787-10 so we might even see a new 787-10 order from them on Tuesday but let's wait and see on that one.

The two big sales campaign are Delta's order for 50 widebody aircraft.  Delta has shortlisted the selection to the 787-9 and the A350-900 and this is where the Air Berlin cancellation may have an effect.  The cancellation frees up early delivery slots which can entice Delta to buy the -9.  However, with Etihad taking up the order it remains uncertain if they kept Air Berlin's delivery slots.  If not then Boeing may have a leg up on Airbus for this order.

The second major 787 order would be one from Emirates which Boeing has coveted for a long time.  With the success of placing an incredibly huge number of 777 (777-300ER and 777X) with Emirates, Boeing still wanted to get them signed on to the 787.  With Emirates' cancellation of their entire A350 order, which will now be competed with the 787 and the A350, Boeing has a tremendous opportunity to finally place the 787 with the only holdout of the ME3 that hasn't placed a 787 order.  The decision is expected to come sometime in the first quarter of next year but I suspect that Boeing will be very aggressive in the pricing vs. the A350.

787 Full Production Table

Friday, September 26, 2014

Adjustments to 787 delivery schedule for September

Looks like there's some adjustment to the 787 delivery schedule for September.  Looks like the delivery of ZA246 (LN 208, VT-ANR) is being pushed back a bit but there isn't a new delivery date on this as of yet.

Also the line move in 40-24 has been delayed as engineers try to work an issue on ZB005 (LN 236, ZK-NZG) which requires it to be back inside.  There isn't any word on when the line move will pule to allow the next aircraft to start final assembly.

Meanwhile ZA817 (LN 241, N800AN) for American Airlines is sitting in position 3 in 40-26 still waiting for its engines to be attached.  There is some unknown issue and the first 787 for American won't have them hung until next week.

ZA003, the third 787-8 test flight aircraft, was also flown to Boeing Field earlier today as it is going to be prepared for display at Seattle's Museum of Flight.  No word on the fate of the other two undeliverable test airplanes but I wouldn't be surprised if they end up in Museums as well.  I doubt that they would be exhibited with actual engines as that would be expensive.

At this rate it does appear that Boeing will not make 10 deliveries this month and may have to settle for 9 or fewer.

Lastly, some anonymous readers have sent me pictures of ZA006 on the Charleston flight line and I'd like to share them with you.

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

Photo by Anonymous

787 Full Production Table

Thursday, September 25, 2014

787 3rd quarter 2014 report

As the 3rd quarter winds up, Boeing seems to be deferring some deliveries to after September 30th according to sources.  This includes the delivery of ZA006, the first 787-8 test flight aircraft to be sold.  Boeing will be attempting now to try and deliver a total of 9 to 11 787s in September including two 787-9 to ANA and Air New Zealand.  Notable deliveries that are being missed in September include:

1st 787-9 to Virgin Atlantic
1st 787-8 to Avianca

So far production looks to be returning to the normal levels of 10 to 11 aircraft per month.  I am projecting that Boeing should start final assembly on 11 787s this month and roll out 9 aircraft.  If Boeing can deliver 11 787s this month, it will go a long way to reducing the inventory of finished aircraft at Charleston and Everett.  As of today Boeing has delivered 188 aircraft since deliveries began exactly 3 years ago.  Boeing has delivered 74 Dreamliners this year and 5 in September.  The goal is 110 and are thus 36 deliveries short of their goal.  Assuming Boeing can manage 6 more in the last 5 days of September they would then need to average 10 787 deliveries per month in order to meet their goal.

Several deliveries should take place within the next two days including:

787-9 to ANA
787-9 to Air New Zealand
787-8 to Air India

Several others need to take the customer flights prior to delivery:

787-8 to LAN
787-8 to Royal Jordanian (via AerCap)
787-8 to Ethiopian (the last from their order of 10)

Now while Boeing can defer some of these deliveries to October, it will mean a much busier month in order to get caught up.  Resources that would have been devoted to preparing aircraft for their planned delivery in October will now be reallocated to those that have been deferred from September to October.  We'll see how it plays out in the next few days.

In other news, Etihad Airways will be unveiling its new livery on the 787-9 sometime on September 27th.  The livery was seen for the first time today on the airlines first A380.  In my opinion the livery was a dud except for the tail.

Lastly, Japanese aviation investigators reported that they could not find a root cause for the burning battery on the ANA flight on January 16th, 2013 which resulted in an emergency landing in Takamatsu, Japan. It was after this incident that lead to the worldwide grounding of the 787 until Boeing containment system to prevent further thermal runaways from developing into a fire.  Since the 787s returned to the air, there have been no further incidents of fires on the LION batteries.  I expect that the FAA, Boeing and battery maker GS Yuasa will continue their investigation and analysis in order to find a root cause of the thermal runaway.

I'll have a full 3rd quarter round up of the 787 program in early October.

787 Full Production Table

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First pics of ZA006 in Charleston

Thanks to John C. Evans, a local aviation enthusiast in Charleston, we have a couple of photos of ZA006, the last test flight aircraft that was sold to the Govt. of Mexico and will be the first 787 to be flown by a government military though in support of government VIP travel.

Again a big shout out to John Evans!

Photo Courtesy of John C. Evans

Photo Courtesy of John C. Evans

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Al Jazeera's 787 expose: How To Make Dogshit From Nothing

The Al Jazeera produced documentary "Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787" is a biased hatchet job which delivers little new information and rehashes years old information to make it appear that the 787 is unsafe. In short, this shoddy journalism is a piece of dogshit.  The documentary ignores basic common sense and blindly takes a one sided view, with out a shred of proof, that the 787 is unsafe.  The truth and reality of the 787 program is inconvenient to the fictional story line in the documentary so Producer Marc Shaffer and Reporter Will Jordan ignores it in order to sell a bad story to an unknowing public.

So let's take apart the Al Jazeera "story" piece by piece.

Review of the 787 program - Al Jazeera goes into a quick and dirty review of the 787 program but highlights that it was built for...hold your noses and cover your eyes....PROFIT. Cue ominous music in the background hinting at some evil lurking around the corner as they roll out their "witnesses" who basically bash the aircraft and Boeing without give any details.

Old story different day - Al Jazeera starts its desperate attempt to call out the 787 as an unsafe aircraft.  It goes through old news particularly the well known and often reported lithium ion battery issue that grounded the 787 for several months last year.  Because Al Jazeera was unable to dig up any new damning information that proves the 787 unsafe, they decided to rehash old information to make it appear that it's unsafe.  In other words, Shaffer and Jordan pulled the old bait and switch. They are also dismissive of the the new containment system that Boeing had designed despite the testing by Boeing and approval by the FAA.

They claim that "leading scientist" don't believe that the aircraft is safe with the new battery containment system.  Al Jazeera doesn't present any evidence that the containment system will prevent an uncontained fire in the case of thermal runaway of the LION battery system.  All they do is present Don Sadoway saying that he doesn't think it is a sufficient fix but doesn't even give a reason why he doesn't think it's not a good fix.  The fix has to be judged in terms of the purpose.  The purpose of the containment box and the battery redesign is to prevent the a LION battery that is experiencing thermal runaway from ever progressing to a fire and to vent noxious fumes overboard.  Dr. Sadoway never said in the the Al Jazeera piece whether it was a good fix or not for containing a battery fire or not.  He only said that that it doesn't address the root cause of the thermal runaway.  There is a big difference.  While the root cause remains unknown, Boeing and the battery manufacturer have developed a system to make sure a fire does not develop.

Airplanes fly around the world with systems that are not perfect and that can break down or cause an accident.  That has been true in the field of aviation since the Wright Brothers.  That is why industrial projects such as the 787 have safety systems and redundancies in order to make the aircraft safe from failing systems such as an advanced battery like the LiCoO2 batteries on the 787.

Moving on Al Jazeera again rehashes old news, this time the merger of Boeing with McDonnell Douglas in 1997.  They state that McD's culture and business model (which they judge unsuccessful despite being one of the largest aerospace companies in the world at that time) is what changed Boeing and made it all about profits and "maximizing Wall Street returns."  It seems that Al Jazeera is equating profit with a lack of safety in this program and nothing can be more ass backwards.  If the journalists at Al Jazeera had any common sense they would realize that no aerospace company would cut corners especially in terms of safety to maximize profitability. No airline would accept or even entertain the thought of buying an aircraft that is inherently unsafe.  No company in their right mind would increase a company's liability risk for short term profits.

Cue more dark and ominous music and cue the disgruntle Boeing workers who call management thugs.  Clearly the agendas of these former employees and Al Jazeera's journalists are aligned. In fact Al Jazeera uses these former employees to denigrate the Boeing Company.

The documentary then proceeds to talk about the roll out of ZA001, the first 787 on July 8, 2007. They call it the fake rollout (or the "big lie" as one of Al Jazeera's stooges calls it) because the aircraft, as we all know today SEVEN YEARS later, was not anywhere near complete.  Yet Al Jazeera thinks it's newsworthy to rehash SEVEN YEAR OLD news.  Yes it was an empty shell, yes it lead to the first of many delays that would stretch to over 3 years but Boeing worked to ensure that the entire aircraft was complete and safe before it flew, a process that took over 2 years.

In July 2009 Boeing had finally gotten ZA001 completely ready, had engines runs and taxi runs in preparation for the first 787 flight.  Soon after the conclusion of the Paris Airshow that month Boeing announced that there was a structural flaw in the side of body where the wing connects to the center wing box.  Boeing could have flown the aircraft under very limiting restrictions.  Instead of risking a flight for the sake of schedule or PR they delayed the first flight another 5 months to December 2009.

Al Jazeera drags out a memo where they try to make a case that "schedule may require deviations to the quality control process."  They also said the memo was supplied by an engineer who said that "They changed basic engineering principles to meet schedule" and rhetorically asks "Would you fly on a plane that you knew was built with major flaws?"  Al Jazeera states that the engineer believes that deviating from the quality control process compromised safety.  However, Al Jazeera stops there.  They made a charge that Boeing ignored quality control to meet schedule but offered no details and no other evidence.  We don't know anything about the source other than what Al Jazeera tells the audience.  We don't know what parts or sections of the aircraft may be affected. We don't know how safety was compromised if at all.  All we have is to go on the word of Al Jazeera and its anonymous "engineering" source and we are offered no other proof of lack of quality control.

Al Jazeera introduces Cynthia Cole who is a former president of SPEEA at Boeing.  Given the bad relations between the union and management you know that Cynthia Cole's assessment is going to be biased against the company. Al Jazeera admits she never did work on the 787 so already there is doubts about her judgement of the 787 program. She adds drama when reviewing the memo and states point blank that Boeing isn't allowing quality control to do their job.  How would she know based on a vague memo especially if she's never worked on the 787 program? She states flat out that she would never fly on a 787. In a press release issued by Boeing prior to the release of the report, Boeing states: "Even on-the-record sources seem to have changed their stories for the producers. For example, former Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) President Cynthia Cole said this about the 787’s first flight in 2009: “Today’s flight is a testament to the skill, hard work and diligence Boeing employees put in to get this airplane ready to fly,” SPEEA President Cynthia Cole said in a news release. “Boeing returned to engineering, and that’s what made today possible and successful.” Now, she states in the documentary trailer that Boeing “shortchanged the engineering process.”  So which is it Cynthia?  It seems that she's two faced when it comes to the 787.

Back to the statement that was in the Boeing memo offered up as proof: "schedule may require deviations to the quality control process."  Examining the statement indicates that there would be deviations to the process and that they are not eliminating the quality control process at all which is what Al Jazeera and Cynthia Cole would have the audience believe.

Moving on, Al Jazeera connects with a Boeing worker at the North Charleston, SC plant whom I suspect is an Everett employee deployed to Boeing South Carolina to help the plant work through the issues they were experiencing.  He alleges that there is poor workmanship in the plant and that the plant staff are uneducated and ill equipped to handle the job and agrees to wear a hidden camera to get "proof." The rogue employee with the camera doesn't present any solid evidence of safety issues, only sound bites about it being unsafe and that they would not fly on the aircraft.

While there is some truth to poor workmanship that had slowed the production of the aircraft and had caused some airlines angst, it's not a threat to safety of flight.  According to my sources while they have seen poor workmanship such as cracked wing components (wing ribs), batteries, failed windscreens, brake issues, incomplete fuselage sections the aircraft is not allowed to be delivered to the customer in that condition.  Furthermore, my sources have seen a huge improvement in the build quality. Additionally my sources have stated that "Some employees that I know have also expressed a lack of confidence in the 787, and have stated that they would not fly on it because of piss-poor quality, particularly with regard to components and/or line numbers produced at BSC but not limited to just them."

From my sources:

"With regard to the allegation that "They’re short-changing the engineering process to meet a schedule" as it were, we see a lot of managers striving to "sell" jobs in order to meet their commitments to upper management, regardless of whether or not it makes sense both from a production and a safety standpoint. We on the floor refer to it as "bean counting" or "bean selling". Having said that much, I also believe that some of our engineers are complete idiots in planning the build of this airplane. Things out of logical sequence, nonsensical processes...I've had to personally overhaul some aspects of a work package myself just to make it flow where we are now, production-wise.  Now, do I believe this is a problem that cannot be fixed? Absolutely not. The problem is getting upper management to stop pretending to care about everything else above production, and to actually do so.  Having said that however, I don't think that the scope of things is terribly out of the ordinary. Boeing has had problems with the 787, and some of its management procedures are lacking, but overall I'm still proud to be a part of the 787.

A lot of what is being said IS based on testimony of some disgruntled folks. I personally despise much of Boeing leadership and many of the processes we have here as they are lacking. However again, it's not permanent. In my opinion, things have improved over the years, particularly in the last three.

And FOR the record, yes I would fly on a 787, and am hoping to do so someday." 

Al Jazeera then presents John Woods a former Boeing engineer that specializes in composites.  Again they throw out allegations compromised and lax safety standards by Boeing managers who forced or threatened people to ignore substandard work.  Again there is no proof other than the allegations that are made by John Woods along with the potentially frightening line that there may be a structural failure of a 787.  Mr. Ford, like the other former or current Boeing workers that Al Jazeera talked to, doesn't go into any detail about what what parts are affected or instances of bad parts or workmanship.

Probably the only serious allegation that came up in the 48 minute report is that of drug use on the Boeing South Carolina campus.  While it is unknown if it is true or not Boeing will probably make a fuller investigation of the allegation.  It is also unknown if this would lead to a safety issue because no one knows the who, what and when.  However drug use in a world wide societal problem and not one that is limited to one industrial company in one town.  I am willing to wager that there is drug use on the final assembly lines at Toulouse, France, the newsrooms of Al Jazeera and in almost any other industrial plant all over the world.

Al Jazeera also seems to suggest a mafia like relationship between Boeing and the government with Boeing pulling the proverbial strings.  They imply (they don't make an out right accusation) that the FAA basically rubber stamped the 787 certification and that the Ali Bahrami who leads the FAA Aircraft Certification Service was too close to Boeing.  They go on to list politicians who have helped secure sales for Boeing including Hillary Clinton and President Obama.  This should be of no surprise that government tries to help sell products and services of domestic firms to other countries and companies.  It's not just Boeing or the 787 but it is a common business practice done everywhere around the world.  Al Jazeera implies there is something sinister with the Boeing-government relationship but ignores the fact that even companies like Airbus have a close relationship with the governments of their home country.  Airbus is even partly owned by the French government but of course it's these inconvenient facts that Al Jazeera chooses to ignore as it dilutes the story line.

Lastly, Al Jazeera employed what I call sucker punch journalism when they interviewed 787 program manager Larry Loftis under false pretenses.  They pulled out the memos which were written before Mr. Loftis took over the 787 program thus ambushing him as well as to assert that he has to explain the comments of the few South Carolina workers who claim shoddy workmanship, lax oversight by unqualified workers.  Boeing promptly ends the interview and later says that "the reporting team appears to have chosen to take advantage of our trust and openness and abused their position from the outset by deliberately misrepresenting the purpose, objective and scope of their planned coverage."

In the final analysis, Al Jazeera set out to use heavy handed practices to weave a false and distorted picture of the 787.  They ignored facts or did not report them as it would disprove their claim that the aircraft is unsafe. They present no proof to back it up.  They use witnesses of questionable character or who have contradicted themselves like Cynthia Cole.  Again they were not going to let the truth get in the way of a good story and they're not above using sucker punch journalism and deception to take the narrative in the direction that they want.

Some people may dismiss me as a "Boeing Fanboy", whatever.  There has been other commentaries critical of Al Jazeera from people who have been much harsher on Boeing than I.  These include AirInsight, Leeham, and Forbes.  Additionally, the Seattle Times reviewed the same memo that Al Jazeera had reviewed and determined that it was not proof that safety of flight was being compromised for the sake of schedule. Let's look at the performance of the 787 since entering service 3 years ago.  Yes we know about the batteries ad nauseam and we all know about the reliability issues that have affect performance ad nauseam but there hasn't been a an incident that put the safety of passengers in danger. Of the over 180 787s in operation around the world we have not seen them falling out of the sky in the almost 5 years that they have been flying including the test flights.  The 787-9 was just certified on time and had a trouble free flight test program.  Of course Al Jazeera won't mention any of this as the truth in inconvenient to their story.  Yes there are issues with production and with traveled work but none of these are safety issues but rather a production system that is in the middle of being stabilized.  One has to question why Al Jazeera is putting out a hatchet piece using questionable methods in order to try to prove something that is obviously and blatantly false.

Boeing's Statement:

Boeing Responds to Al Jazeera English Documentary on 787
Boeing issued the following statement prior to the airing of the television program on Al Jazeera English. The company will not be providing any further comment. 
We have not been afforded the opportunity to view the full program, but the promotional trailer and published media reviews suggest that what has been produced is as biased a production as we have seen in some time. It is unfortunate that the producers of this television program appear to have fallen into the trap of distorting facts, relying on claims rejected by courts of law, breathlessly rehashing as “news” stories that have been covered exhaustively in the past and relying on anonymous sources who appear intent only on harming The Boeing Company. 
When first contacted by the producers, we accommodated them in order for them to produce a fair and objective report including facilitating factory access, interviews and providing full and open responses to their questions. The 787 is an outstanding airplane delivering value to our customers, but we have also talked candidly in public about its challenging development process. There are no tougher critics about our early performance than Boeing. Unfortunately, the reporting team appears to have chosen to take advantage of our trust and openness and abused their position from the outset by deliberately misrepresenting the purpose, objective and scope of their planned coverage. 
This specious production appears to have ignored the factual information provided by Boeing and instead based the majority of its reporting on unnamed sources pursuing their own agendas and a disgruntled former employee engaged in a legal dispute with Boeing. In one instance, the producers resorted to ambush tactics normally seen only in tabloid-style TV news. The anonymous sources the TV program depends on are clearly working with those who seek to harm Boeing and its workers. They appear to have no real interest in truth, safety or better informing the public. 
Even on-the-record sources seem to have changed their stories for the producers. For example, former Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) President Cynthia Cole said this about the 787’s first flight in 2009: “Today’s flight is a testament to the skill, hard work and diligence Boeing employees put in to get this airplane ready to fly,” SPEEA President Cynthia Cole said in a news release. “Boeing returned to engineering, and that’s what made today possible and successful.” Now, she states in the documentary trailer that Boeing “shortchanged the engineering process.” 
Instead of an objective view of the 787’s development, viewers and our employees will see a television program that is neither balanced nor accurate in its portrayal of the airplane, our employees, or our suppliers. This program and those involved with it do a disservice to the hard-working men and women of Boeing and our supplier partners who designed and build the 787. 
Furthermore, the program presents a false impression of Boeing South Carolina and the quality of work performed there. Airplanes, whether delivered from South Carolina or Washington, meet the highest safety and quality standards that are verified through robust test, verification and inspection processes. Our data of the current 787 fleet in service show parity in the quality and performance of airplanes manufactured in both locations.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mexican Air Force to take delivery of test 787 at the end of September

As previously reported here on All Things 787, the Mexican Air Force had purchased ZA006 for use as a government transport.  when delivered it will mark the first 787 to be purchased by a government armed services.

Currently the aircraft is in New Iberia, LA. where it is probably getting a paint job and having some other work performed on it in preparation to convert it into a government transport.It is scheduled to fly to Charleston on September 22nd where it will be in stall A4 for a few days.  It will then transfer over to the delivery center at Charleston on the 25th of September and will be there until it flies away around September 28th.  It's been reported that Mexico paid $127mm for the aircraft which performed flight testing duties with the GEnX-1B engines.

Spotters at CHS, please be on the look out for this aircraft.  I'm sure a lot of people would like to see what kind of livery it will have.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

787 Report - August, 2014 Month End

With four months left in the year, Boeing is making a push to meet its 2014 787 delivery guidance.  Through the end of August, Boeing has delivered 69 787s in 2014.

Deliveries totaled 13 for August. but Boeing only rolled out only 8 787s to the flightlines in Everett and North Charleston.  That puts the 787 production efficiency at 0.62 (the 787 production efficiency is arrived at by dividing the number of 787s rolled out by the number of 787s delivered during the month).  Overall efficiency in 2014 is 1.27 which indicates that Boeing is rolling out more 787s in 2014 then they are delivering. Notable deliveries included the first 787-8 to Xiamen Airlines, Royal Jordanian and the last -8 to British Airways.

Boeing has delivered 183 787s through the end of August since deliveries began 3 years ago and it does look like they will break 200 deliveries in early October.  It is unknown who the lucky customer is that will take delivery of the 200th 787.

Production was slow in August as Boeing is starting the process of transitioning the 40-24 production over to 40-26.  However, sources have also told me that they are still dealing with some traveled work which is causing the completion of work either at the EMC or on the flightline.  With four months remaining, Boeing needs to deliver at least 10 787s a month if they are to meet their guidance of 110 deliveries in 2014. Internally Boeing hopes it can exceed that number and try to deliver about 120 787s including at least 2 early build 787s to customers this year.

In terms of production in September, it looks as if Boeing will start final assembly on 9 Dreamliners in this month.  These will include some of the last 787s that will be delivered in 2014.  The time it takes Everett to build, test and deliver a 787 is about 100 to 120 days.  It takes Charleston about 110 to 120 to do the same.  If this trends holds up then Boeing will be hard pressed to deliver 110 787s this year.  Clearly traveled work has to trend down and both assembly lines need to get more efficient if they are to hit the target.  Clearly taking 4 months to build and deliver a 787 is not going to cut it

Looking ahead to September deliveries, it appears that Boeing will try to finish the 3rd quarter with a bang similar to what they did in June.  That month they delivered 15 787s.  They could deliver anywhere from 13 to 15 787s depending on how flight testing progresses.  Deliveries in September should include the 1st 787-9 to Virgin Atlantic Airways and the first 787-8 delivered to Avianca.  I expect 3 787-9s to be delivered including one each to ANA and Air New Zealand.  Ethiopian should take delivery of its 10 787-8 from their direct order of 10 Dreamliners from Boeing.  This will not be Ethiopian's last 787 though as they will be taking several more on lease from AerCap.

While Boeing has been delivering aircraft at a very good pace there is still clouds that hang over the program.  Last month, there were two cancellations for the 787 totaling 9 aircraft.  It is widely believed that the first one is Lion Air (Batik Air) which had ordered 5 787s.  The second one is Transaero which announced that they had cancelled their order for 4 aircraft.

Boeing's Press Release on delivering United's 1st 787-9:
Delivery of UA's 1st 787-9. Photo Courtesy of the Boeing Co.

Boeing Delivers First North American 787-9 Dreamliner to United Airlines

787-9 joins 11 787-8s already in United's fleet

SEATTLE, Sept. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE:BA) and United Airlines are celebrating the delivery of the airline's first 787-9 Dreamliner. United will become the first airline in North America to operate both the 787-8 and 787-9 variants of the Dreamliner family when the airline launches 787-9 service later this month. 
"We're proud that United has become the North America launch customer for both the 787-8 and 787-9, marking another important milestone in the successful history of Boeing and United working together," said Brad McMullen, vice president of North America Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. 

Earlier this year, United announced it will fly the airplane on what will become the longest 787 route -- nonstop service between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia. 

The 787-9 complements and extends the 787 family. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 450 nautical miles (830 kilometers) with the same exceptional environmental performance – 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. The airplane leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passenger-pleasing features such as large windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride.

United operates 11 787 Dreamliners with an additional 54 on order, including the 787-10.

787 Full Production Table

Friday, August 22, 2014

GE powered 787-9 receives Amended Type Certificate clearing way for first delivery next week.

The FAA granted Boeing the amended type certificate for the GE powered version of the 787-9 clearing the way for deliveries to begin later next week with the first aircraft going to United Airlines.  That delivery should occur in the middle to late next week.

Boeing is slowly ramping up 787-9 production this year and is on track to deliver 10 to 12 this year though I'm in favor of the higher number.  The airplanes that are coming off the production line still have to go through some change incorporation at the EMC but I believe this should start to tail off by the middle of the fourth quarter (November).  2015 might prove to be a big year for deliveries of the larger 787 model.  I believe that Boeing can deliver around 50 to 55 787-9 which would be almost 50% of their 2015 deliveries.  If they are able to accomplish that coupled with a successful drive to reduce production and assembly costs, then the 787-9 can be extremely profitable for Boeing in 2015.

It could also help if Boeing can convert more customers from the 787-8 to either the 787-9 and/or the 787-10.  Already some airlines are getting out the 787-8 like Air Berlin which still has to confirm their conversion from the -8 to the -9.  This can only help the overall profitability of the 787 program in the long run.  Yesterday, Boeing showed a cancellation of 5 787s from it's weekly order report.  Speculation immediately fell on Lion Air/Batik as the source as they have been talking about converting that order into 10 737s.  There was also an unidentified order for 10 737s posted along with the cancellation thus Lion Air does seem to be the logical choice.

Thus far in August, Boeing has delivered 8 787s but I do expect 5 more to be delivered in the next 9 days. I'll give a fuller report at the end of the month along with a preview of September's deliveries around Labor Day.
787 Full Production Table