Saturday, February 27, 2016

Update on 787-9 for Virgin Atlantic

I just got a tentative update on ZB036 (LN377, G-VDIA) which is a 787-9 for Virgin Atlantic.  The aircraft is still in 88-30 and will be there until March 6 to the Charleston flightline.  The aircraft will presumably under a mini gauntlet ground tests prior to conducting a functional check flight (FCF) on March 11th and a C-2 flight on March 12th.  The new tentative delivery date to Virgin Atlantic is now March 17th.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Virgin 787-9 hit by engine fire during ground test

To follow up something I mentioned in my last post regarding ZB036 (LN 377, G-VDIA) a 787-9 that was supposed to be delivered to Virgin Atlantic last month.

For the past few weeks it had been inside building 88-30 undergoing repairs to the wing in an area near the engine.

Apparently the wing was damaged by an engine fire while the engine was running during a test on the flightline at Charleston.  I don't have details about what started the fire, the extent of the damage or any NTSB/FAA investigation, if any.

It is unknown when the aircraft will complete repairs and delivered to Virgin.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

787 delivery and production rate expected to be at 10 for February

Boeing is on track to deliver 10 787s (3 x 787-8 and 7 x 787-9).  These numbers are an improvement from January where Boeing delivered 7 airplanes.  I expect that Boeing will also roll out 10 787s from it's two manufacturing plants with each location pushing out 5 airplanes each.  By May there will be 6 787s coming out of each plant.

The 100th 787 built by Boeing North Charleston was among the airplanes that were delivered thus far in the month.  This airplane was a 787-8, ZA830 (LN 387, N813AN) and was delivered to American Airlines.  This airplane is American's 14th 787 delivered and they are expected to receive 3 more 787-8 and 4 787-9s during this year.

Speaking of 787 deliveries from Charleston, there is one 787-9 for Virgin Atlantic that seems ready for delivery, however it has spent the last few weeks back inside building 88-30 for some sort of repair to the area of the wing near the engine.  It still is inside the building but is tentatively scheduled to fly a C-2 customer flight around February 24th and be delivered to the airline on March 1st though I will watch the schedule on this particular aircraft.

With The Charleston plant now operating at a higher production rate, deliveries have not been keeping pace with the number of roll outs and thus the space to park airplanes is getting tighter even with  Boeing sending airplanes to be painted at Portland, Victorville, and Acadiana.  Currently, with 10 787s that are rolled out but not delivered, 8 are parked outside the final assembly hall while two are being painted at different locations.  Boeing is constructing new flightline stalls at Charleston but they're not finished yet though I suspect they should be close to completion by the time they start rolling out at 6/month sometime in May at Charleston.

As we enter the last week of February we should see the final 5 airplanes that are already ready for delivered, handed over to their new owners.

As for March, right now it appears that there are 16 deliveries scheduled for the final month of the 1st quarter but as we have seen, these things change.

787 Full Production Table

Thursday, February 4, 2016

787 firing order gives clues to unidentified customers

With the latest update to the 787 firing order we're able to have some clarity on some unidentified customers.  This is my own analysis based on the information that I have in hand.

What is notable is the number of 787-9s that is on the firing order for United Airlines.  To date, UAL has announced a total 787-9 commitment of 18 787-9. 14 have been delivered with 5, not 4, but five more 787-9s yet to be delivered.  There can be one of three explanations for this apparent discrepancy: 1) UAL has converted existing options into firm orders but has not been announced, 2) UAL has converted 2 existing orders for the 787-10 into the 787-9 which has not been announced or 3) UAL is one of the unidentified customers who has ordered 2 787-9.  I am leaning towards number 3.

More revelations from the firing order: There appears to be a direct purchase of at least 1 787-9 from Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight.  Here it could only be that this order is currently listed as an unidentified customer for 2 787-9s.

Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight isn't the only Middle Eastern order for an executive 787-9.  It appears that the House of Saud has bought a 787-9BBJ to join the two 787-8BBJs already in their fleet.  The Saudi Ministry of Finance will be taking a 787-9BBJ sometime next year and it appears that this is the only -9BBJ that they will buy for now.

787 Full Production Table