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