Monday, February 24, 2014

Space Launch System Videos

Ok so here's a change from the usual 787 postings. I came a across these really cool animations of the Space Launch System. The first video show the individual umbilicals attached to the SLS and their functions during liftoff. The second video is an animation of the roll out and launch of the SLS.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

787 Traveled Work: How much time is needed?

The issues in Charleston has forced Boeing to carve out more time to prepare the 787s currently coming out of final assembly.  Thus far it is unclear how much more time is needed to finish all the traveled work in this posting I'll try to take a stab at determining how much more time is needed.

Usually, Boeing send the aircraft straight from final assembly to the paint hangar with perhaps a couple of days outside.  With the current situation, Boeing is now sending airplanes directly to the EMC to finish assembly activities before they are painted. 

Using my data along with Matt Cawby's Tweets of 787 movements out of the paint hangar, I was able to get an idea of time from roll out from final assembly through painting.  Matt Cawby has been tweeting when 787s exit final assembly as well as when they come out of the paint hangar.  For the last few 787s I've created a table that explores the additional time that is needed to finish these aircraft.  I am assuming that when the aircraft is transferred from the EMC (Everett Modification Center) to the flightline or the paint hangar, that it is completed all necessary travelled work and is now resuming the normal production sequence to prepare it for first flight and eventual delivery to the customer.

According to the data, the average time between roll out of the aircraft fro final assembly to the time it is taken out of the paint hangar or is observed on the flightline is about 15 days. Painting itself would take anywhere from 4 to 7 days depending on the complexity of the scheme being applied and the customer's satisfaction with the paint job. 

Using these assumptions along with observed data, it is reasonable to assume that the aircraft spends anywhere from 10 to 12 days at the EMC to finish off the traveled work resulting from the problems at Charleston.  I do expect that this should go down as the number of contracted workers increase and reduce the number of jobs over the next few months.

The most interesting question is will Boeing need to hire these contracted employees on a permanent basis in South Carolina in order to stay at rate (not to mention to assist when they increase to 12 and eventually 14 aircraft per month)?  If so, one has to wonder what this would cost Boeing and the 787 program in terms of profitability.

Czarina Putin contemplating the effect of traveled work on the 787 program.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Boeing delivers 4 787 in January but still plauged with problems in Charleston

Boeing delivered a total of 4 787s in January a decrease of 7 month over month from December's 11 deliveries.  I expected that the number was going to be lower due to the holidays in December which is a time that production usually takes a break company wide.  However, I was forecasting 8 deliveries some of which were just recently delivered aircraft in early February.  I was expecting that Qatar would have taken deliveries last month but apparently they are not ready to take possession.  Qatar has been notoriously picky in their inspections of the aircraft.  There are 4 that are complete at Charleston and outside on the flightline. 

So far in February, Boeing has delivered 3 .  Almost midway through the month of February, Boeing hasn't conducted too many B-1 flights of the aircraft that have rolled out of the final assembly buildings.  In fact Boeing has conducted only 3 first flights of production 787s.  Many of the 787s coming out of 40-24 or 40-26 went to the flightline or the EMC without paint.  This is to finish any traveled work that was left un done due to the issues in Charleston's mid-body assembly building.  While those tasks that went uncompleted in Charleston were probably finished during final assembly, that meant pushing other final assembly tasks to a time after the aircraft rolled out.  This is probably the work that went on the flightline and at the EMC.  Some of those planes have finished the traveled work and have been or are currently being painted.  So far it looks like the 787s that are rolling out needs to spend one more week to finish the traveled work at the EMC before releasing the aircraft to go to paint and subsequent pre-delivery ground and flight tests.  Boeing is continuing to move the mid-body fuselages through each of the assembly cells in 88-20 and then deliver them to Everett of Charleston's 88-30 building for final assembly regardless of the shape that they're in and the amount of work that is left to be done.  Boeing is more intent on maintaining rate of 10/month and the traveled work will be done after the airplanes have moved out of final assembly.  While this may be all well and good in the short term it could have long lasting impacts if the issues in 88-20 are not corrected quickly.  Deliveries could certainly fall behind and the FAA may inquire as to what exactly in going on in Charleston and why. 

The key things to watch for is if Boeing is still sending airplanes that had just been rolled out to paint, the flightline or the EMC.  If it is the later, then we need to see how long they spend at the EMC before going to paint and then on to the flightline.

Boeing is attributing the flow issues in Charleston's 88-20 mid-body assembly building to the introduction of the 787-9 as well as the increase in rate to 10/month. However, Boeing should have also attributed the chaos in 88-20 to the laying off of the contract workers in Charleston months earlier.  Workers that they are now hiring back to get the mid-body assembly back on track. 

Given Boeing's plans for Charleston especially with the planned rate increases in the coming years and if the rumors of the plant taking on all 787-10 assembly is true, then Boeing will need to have these contract workers around for a very long time to come.

Given the unpredictability of the issues that Boeing with the program especially with regards to the mid-body fuselage and the knock on effects that the traveled work has caused to downstream planning of testing and delivery activities, it is hard to predict how many 787s will be eventually delivered this month...and we're already near mid-month. 

This may crimp Boeing's plan to deliver 110 aircraft this year though it is still yet too early to arrive at that conclusion definitively.  Boeing is struggling to get dispatch reliability to over 99% and currently they are at over 98% which is good but not satisfactory to Boeing or the 787 operators.

Full 787 List

Current 787 Production List

Delivered 787 List

787 Monthly Delivery Tracking

787 Customer Delivery

787-9 Flight Test Hours

Current 787 Operators