August 27, 2007

August 27, 2007

I am back after a short (and much needed) vacation. I've tweaked the design for these updates to make information more accessible. A master list of all updates will still be available at its original page: The Dreamliner Learns to Fly.

Structural, wiring and systems installation continues on Dreamliner One as it has since July 9th. At last word, the flight deck only had rudder pedals installed. The vertical tail has not yet been reattached, however the aft pressure drogue has installed in preparation for flight test. An ANA painted rudder has arrived in the rear of the factory in Building 40-36. This is destined for Dreamliner Two when final assembly begins in October. The aircraft is likely to wear full ANA paint. Passenger doors 1 and 2 have been installed on the Static Rig which is still in the number one position inside Building 40-26.

UPDATE: The vertical tail (without the rudder) was reattached to the fuselage on Sunday, August 26.

With the change in delivery order, work in Charleston has shifted to the Fatigue Airframe (ZY998). Section 45/11 and 44 have been joined and Sections 46 & 43 are being deburred and drilled in preparation for completion of the center fuselage. Limited work continues on Dreamliner Two with the installation of clips and fittings.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Really expected them to be doing taxi runs by now. Wonder why so little has been installed and checked out thus far. There must be some serious problems they are working. Any clue?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid staying on schedule looking more and more unlikely at this point. Hopefully Dreamliner one will still fly before year's end.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the continual on-track chants from Boeing management has been flat-out bold-faced lies.

Anonymous said...

Says you. You have no idea of of Boeing's plans and contingencies.

Anonymous said...

As long as we start our test program by April 2008, we can still meet EIS in May 2008 ;)

Anonymous said...

YEA, we can dress up the 767 Tanker and fly it before the end of September.

Anonymous said...

This a BRAND NEW challange. There are going to be delays.
We just want Boeing to get it RIGHT and then the rest will fall in place.
The worse thing in the world they could do is rush it to fly and find a MAJOR issue that would cause extensive delays.
But clearly with over 600 Planes to
build, seems they need to get some
majot structures built and going.

Anonymous said...

How come no one in the main street media is reporting on this??


Anonymous said...

How is it that JO gets info when everyone on the Boeing floor (and in the offices) has signed off their rights to any information pertinent to Boeing (who defines, by the way, what belongs to them and what might not - and it's fairly strong toward the Boeing side of the axis)? How, except this, is Boeing behind the leaks?

adam said...

some people don't take confidentiality agreements very seriously.

Anonymous said...

The leaks are in hope that the upper management will take notice and respond accordingly with actions to fix the problems. Firing those who can't seem to get the information up to the top is fustrating for all of us who build this wonderful airplane of the future.

Boeing officials need to Stop the flow assemblies with the wrong hardware installed. Temp Fasteners are creating to many hours of rework.

How about setting up a Hardware 411 line for the 787.

Boeing should keep all the HARD to find hardware in Everett. Then when the partners need something, they can ship it to them instead of filling the hole with Home Depot hardware.

Jon said...

Would the last poster please contact me at flightblogger (at) gmail (dot) com. I'm curious about a few items you discussed.


Anonymous said...

from Aviation Leak

Boeing Readies Backup 787 Flight-Test Plans

Aug 19, 2007

By Guy Norris

Boeing is studying contingency plans to maintain its May 2008 delivery target for the first 787-8 in the face of mounting software and systems delays that could push first flight back into October.

The company originally planned to fly the aircraft at the end of August, but is now officially targeting the end of September. However, Boeing adds that “we’re aware of the complexities which are in front of us, and we know it could move further back into the fall.” A full update on the status of ZA001, the first flight test aircraft, is scheduled to be given on Sept. 5, at which time Boeing is expected to reveal more details of the backup plans, should they be necessary.

Boeing says key challenges remain in three main areas: software/system integration, structural testing and “traveled work.” This refers to assembly, test and checkout tasks that have to be completed “out of sequence” compared with Boeing’s original plan, disrupting other work and in worst-case scenarios causing some completed jobs to be redone. The out-of-sequence problem bedeviled the start of the 737 Next Generation assembly line, helping spark Boeing’s infamous production crisis in 1997. The traveled-work issue was particularly acute for ZA001, which rolled out with an empty interior and without a flight deck.

Boeing’s production plan calls for all 787 subassemblies, including the nose Section 41 unit from Wichita, Kan., to arrive “pre-stuffed” at Everett, Wash., complete with all major systems, wiring and ducting already installed. Although Boeing never expected the first subassemblies to be completed to this degree, it’s thought that much more of this work than expected has had to be migrated to Everett for completion on the line there instead, further hampering progress.

Systems issues are also a key factor, says Boeing. Commenting at the July 8 rollout of the aircraft, Boeing 787 Systems Director Mike Sinnett acknowledged the final integration and functional checkout of the systems would be “the long pole in the tent” toward clearance for flight test. Boeing is targeting an interface control document (ICD) block point release standard of 7.2 for first flight, and is understood to be encountering issues moving to this standard through the clearance of an interim ICD of 7.1.

Boeing admits it’s facing “significant schedule pressures” and adds that “we’re being realistic about what is still in front of us.” The manufacturer adds that “we do have contingency plans in place to protect the May 2008 delivery target, so we’re doing everything we can on that.” Although declining to offer specifics, the backup plan is understood to include options for adding one or more aircraft to the flight test and certification program.

Six aircraft are currently rostered for the flight test effort: four Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered and two General Electric GEnx-powered. Unlike previous Boeing commercial development efforts, the initial production rampup means that a further batch of around 40 aircraft is scheduled to be assembled by the time certification is completed in the April-May timeframe. This could make it feasible for additional aircraft to be drafted in to assist with the tail-end aspects of the test program in the first and second quarter of 2008.

Boeing is, however, likely to internally resist the move to add extra flight test aircraft on cost and complexity grounds. Aircraft used for flight test work require refurbishment prior to final delivery, and using any additional 787s earmarked for early delivery slots could further impact downstream deliveries and would have to be contractually renegotiated. Instead, the company is expected to pin its hopes largely on a streamlined flight test process that will “prepare the airplanes more quickly for their flights and [that also includes] a new way of scheduling the work,” Boeing says.

Boeing beta-tested its accelerated flight test regime on the 737-900ER program in 2006, and again with the 747LCF (large cargo freighter) certification earlier this year. Although details remain sparse, Boeing test pilot Ray Craig said the process for the 737-900ER acted as a prototype for the 787, describing it as “the flight test of the future—different scheduling and different methodology.” Although the 737 program encountered problems with faulty sensors and minor flight-control changes, it racked up a rate of 60 hr. a month by early 2006 under the new methodology.

GE, meanwhile, says the first flight of the GEnx-1B-powered 787 is still on track. “The November schedule is holding. The delay of the first plane hasn’t affected us,” says the engine maker.

News of the possible 787 slip first emerged on Aug, 9 at a second-quarter financial results conference with Boeing President/CEO James McNerney. However, the company had earlier signaled warnings over slippage in the highly compressed development schedule, particularly with revelations that it had been forced to boost research and development spending to $3.7 billion, most of it due to the new twinjet. At the time, McNerney said the R&D increase was intended to “preserve the 787 schedule” and ensure that the May 2008 first-delivery deadline is met.

Anonymous said...

"UPDATE: The vertical tail (without the rudder) was reattached to the fuselage on Sunday, August 26. The horizontal stabilizer was also reinstalled."

HUH!? Again... your source is blind or dumb. Get it right for once...

I think "your source" is a janitor on the 747 who isn't aloud down in the 787 bay. LOL

Anonymous said...

Main problem is that when you have to work on structure you cannot install systems. And when one system is in place you may have to remove it to install missing parts of another-one... I experienced this kind of snow ball effect with another airplane manufacturer.

Furthermore it is really difficult to synchronise the three shifts. One may partly remove what has been installed by the previous one...

You are permanently postponing verification tests you have to make on each system as it is never completed.

Really, in between power on and first flight, you may consider 3 to 4 months....

For ststic test rig, consider time to attach jacks (actuators), setting of the installation (strain gauges) and then first test results (1.5 G load)to be analysed. Minimum 6 weeks (from 9/11/7)...

Sory for that, but I cannot believe that this wonderfull A/P will fly before early 2008...

Anonymous said...

What the last poster just wrote makes a lot of sense as far as installing and checking out systems. No clue on the static test part though. Seems that job could be done faster than 6 weeks, but likely is not the long pole at this point. I heard there is an update from Boeing on Sept 5th. I can't imagine it being very good if what this blog has painted is at all true.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the flight test getting off the ground and being complicated prior to January 08. With Charleston Averaging 3 months to assemble each of their sections. I cannot see the how in the world the folks up in the offices can keep feeding the investors all these lies.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great reporting. It's pretty sad Boeing has put themselves into this position, and it appears their problems are only just beginning. I fear the pressure they are placing on their workers will lead to mistakes that could result in a crash in flight testing.

Anonymous said...

It's a good job for Boeing that Airbus is a long way off with their A350XWB, otherwise many of those lucrative 787 orders would soon evaporate.

Boeing are going to lose a lot of face if 787 gets delayed much longer. And the blame will lie squarely with their inept management team.

Anonymous said...

There is a good chance that the 787 delays will lead to the last half of the 787 orders moving to the A350 since the delivery dates will be about the same.

Anonymous said...

While I can't comment on wether or not the 787 will be delayed, as I just simply do not know enough, and doubt the rest of you do, but I can say most of you are jumping the gun. One little delay and everyone is shouting about a five year delay. Come one, lets wait some time and see what happens. None of us knows exactly what is going on and what Boeing plans to do. I higly doubt the EIS for the 787 will be close to the A350, as someone pointed out. So far, it only has been a one month delay in first flight. Calm down.

Anonymous said...

"Calm down"? This frenzy actually is the result of Boeing's choices. We'll hear more next week; how believable all that will be is something to discuss (chewing up Goodwill is not smart).

On 7/8/7, the roll out could have been virtual where the state of the plane in a Lean progression could have been shown. Then, the delta between the stuffed expectation and the reality could have been explained.

That the first plane helps work out the manufacturing process could have been explained thereby helping the younger generation seeing how to do things. At the same time, there could have been lessons on the difficulty of scheduling a complicated design and product.

Putting out an empty shell and the doing custom work to get it finished was a sleight-of-hand (yes, the new Boeing and the plane that is not our fathers' do seem to point to management changes that might need to be re-evaluated).

Anonymous said...

Once again, Calm Down. They brought it out because it was 7/8/07. If they took it out on any other day, I would agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Ok, what I really find frustrating is the lack of discussion ANYWHERE (this blog included) on two very fundamental aspects to this planes development, first flight, and entry into service. BTW, I am working on this program for an overseas supplier and I can speak for matters regarding structural engineering.

1. Most of this aircraft is not only being made by companies other than Boeing, but the design and structural analysis is being provided by these companies... the tier 1 suppliers. However, much of the work isn't done by these tier 1 suppliers, instead they use subcontractors for their engineering, who then use third or fourth level suppliers. The problem with this madness is twofold;
- the quality and consitency of the end product (again, I am speaking strictly about structural engineering) vary greatly between the hundreds of companies working on the project. Some is very good, but unfortunately a lot is of very poor standard ... well below what was done in-house by Boeing for other projects!
- Boeing actually have very little visibility of what's going on with much of this work. Tier 1 suppliers have been given almost full control. In some cases, not only do Boeing not know what's been done, they don't even know who's done it!! Although we all would like to think of this as a Boeing aircraft, unfortunatly most of the problems are not strictly Boeings fault, although they did decide on this business plan!

2. All of the discussions in the press and blogs revolves around assembly of the aircraft... when the 787 will actually have all systems and structure in place. However, when it comes to CERTIFICATION, this is the easy part! Anyone can build a plane, its another thing entirely to get it certified. From what I've seen I would expect major delays in the certification of this aircraft, first deliveries even mid 2008 is a joke. And if Certification is achieved in this timeframe, I would ask many question of the relationship between Boeing and the FAA.

They need to take time and get it done right. It will be a good aircraft eventually if they face up to and admit the problems. But if they don't do it right and continue to push this thing through when it's not ready, I'm sure I won't be the only person working on the program who would not fly on the aircraft.

Anonymous said...

The person who made the last commentary. Keep on writing her on the blog. You made a good job!

Anonymous said...

This thing seems to show, looking from the outside, a serious split in reality as viewed by the different parties. We all want to marvel at technology and to wonder about those who wave the related wands.

But, to date, we've been reading what marketing wants us to see (if only wishes could fly). It has gotten so bad that some actually question how one could be skeptical when there were so many sales (this is something that we need a thread on - let's just say that there are those that do [thank God for that] and usually they're not allowed to see the light of day [for various reasons, such as not being able to distort the truth without gagging]).

Meanwhile, during all this hype before the hypothesis, engineers and other techies have been struggling to bring this thing to fruition such that it could actually perform. We're still waiting to watch that happen (not that it won't, but when and with what cost still is a very much uncertain thing). Yet, we don't hear from these people who know, except in a few forums such as this current one (and, the dialog here is only of recent vintage - this has been going on for 4+ years).

jon did put out the list of tests that the 787 needs to go through. I hope that he keeps results up to date.

Yet, on the recent drop test, we won't hear as Boeing considers the results to be proprietary.

Will we ever hear from some of the buyers (technical analysis, not market)? Have they been kept abreast of status?

Anonymous said...

The people working on the various aircraft and a/c systems both Boeing and suppliers are obviously doing their best to do more work, both testing, re-work and travelled work, than was planned.

At some point, these issues will get cleared up and the program will consume more money than contemplated but will stay pretty close to schedule for first flight and certification.

On the other hand, at some point the work arounds become counter productive, wasteful, hugely expensive, and even dangerous. Making the call about whether the program can work through the problems or whether it would actually benefit from a schedule slip is a tough call and a management decision.

The problem is always that if you give a program like the 787, say a 2 month slip, the 60 days will get used up in about half a shift, and then everybody will still be struggling to make that new date. If on the other hand, the leadership is seen as being blind to obvious delays and loses credibility with the team, the workers figure the mgt doesn't know what going on and when that point arrives, the slip has to happen.

Seem that usually the behaviour is to hope for the best until it is apparent that the schedule has to slip, not just a week or two or even a month as has already happened, but more. Every schedule slip has a recovery plan, so when we start hearing about work on recovery plans then we'll know there's a slip of consequence being formalized.

Trying to figure out whether 1st flight slips mean certification and EIS slips isn't so clear from all these comments.

Figuring out whether MSN 007 can go to ANA on time is also very different from whether the other 35 a/c can be delivered in the rest of 2008. Seems like this last may be more of a worry than getting the May ANA date precisely right.

Anonymous said...

regarding fasteners on 787.

Spirit,Alenia, and Vought all say problem of getting fasteners with the right coating/lack of coatings related to the requirement to ground out for lightening strikes has been a big problem. Failure to get the special faster needs for 787 held all up. Heard but haven't seen verified that now Alcoa and others (SPS, HUCK, VOISHAN) had process worked out and fastener problem resolved. Of course that leaves to do, the removal of out of spec temp fasteners and replace with correct ones.

Anonymous said...

Boeing's insistence on trying to completely control information flow by having everyone sign off on rights to anything and Boeing owns all the facts about 787 makes tracking this airplane progress and talking about it without risking getting fired worse than any ever. Used to be very open conversation about what was happening, but this time Boeing being extremely touchy for both office and floor. Would think that open exchange of data would help everybody understand need to pull together, especially with work done all over world by non Seattle team.

Anonymous said...

re: whether the rollout a/c should have been fully 'stuffed'

Can remember lots of plywood on earlier planes, and certainly nearly all go right back in hanger to have many many missing components installed. To hear Jon's description, however, this one feels more empty and less ready to go than most as we approach nearly 2 months after rollout. If this is going to fly in early October as now seems to be earliest, it still needs to power on, get on its own wheels, and start taxing. If we don't see this soon, something more serious going on. Possible that the 5 Sep Baer update will provide color or even some later date--1st flight is when plane ready and nothing will change that. Not at all clear that moving expectations for 1st flight even a bit more would really move the needle for sure on EIS. Doubtful that there's a need to concede much in May 2008 for the likely Aug 15th orginal guess at first flight...nearly all more than a month after rollout.

To have more details of consequence, the company would ineveitably put out a release beforehand, and probably someone higher than MB would be on call. ANA would be told first as well, so somewhere in Japan we might hear a bit earlier if anything of note really on MB call.