June 2009 Archives
Last this page left the new jumbo jet, the forward fuselage was making the trip on May 17th from Building 40-23 back over to 40-21/22 for sealing and testing.
When the first stub join was completed, the wings were "flown" from the join position to the seal on the afternoon of June 7th. The crane, actually two cranes, that lifted the wings represented a record for Boeing after more than 40 years of 747 production. According to one source, the two cranes lifted 149,300 lbs. before placing the wings into the seal area.
Eleven days later, Boeing had the second set of wings in the stub join area. Which brings us to last week when the bonnet Section 44 was lowered into position over the center wing box on June 25th to begin the wing-to-body join.
Next will be the final body join that will see the wings flying to the next assembly position for mating to the forward and aft fuselage sections by the end of August or so, says Boeing.
Program sources also indicate that two of four General Electric GEnx-2B engines have been delivered to final assembly. Final certification of the engine is expected to happen around October. Finally, the blended raked winglets will be added once the aircraft is moved to the slant position at the head of Building 40-22 because the wings would be wider than the join area!
Photo Credit Boeing
Update 3 - June 25, 2007 - 10:25pm
Sources inside Boeing say, "There is not much left to do before moving to paint shop. All doors are installed. All slats, ailerons, flaps, and spoilers are installed. They are working on access doors on the wing." Another source says, "Most everything that will be "seen" is on the airplane, save for a few odds and ends."
According to the schedule Dreamliner One will head to the paint shop after 10:00pm PDT (1:00am EDT). The airplane movement from assembly shop to paint shop usually occurs after dark to minimize the distraction of the drivers on the freeway below the bridge.
Mike Bair said today, "The aircraft will be structurally complete at rollout but will still have systems, ducting, wiring and similar work to be done before first flight. When those tasks are completed, it will be powered up and proceed to ground test before it flies."
First, lets examine the changes:
- Jetstar's first 15 787s will now be 787-9s, not 787-8s and will arrive in mid-2013.
- The 15 deferred 787-8s will be put into domestic operations starting in the 4th quarter of 2014 over the following 12 months.
- The remaining 20 787-9 will be for Qantas and Jetstar operations, with the first deliveries in the 4th quarter of 2015 through 2017.
- Total firm order stands at 50 787s, down from 65, with options for 50 more
Though the cancellation of 15 787-9s is very significant for the 787 program, lowering the total orderbook to 840 units from 56 customers, the disclosure of the revised plans for the aircraft is perhaps the more significant story.
Qantas was originally allocated three aircraft - LN21/24/27 - in the early 787-8 production run. That number was later increased to five with LN22 and LN29 reallocated to the Australian carrier after Delta/Northwest disclosed it was retooling its delivery schedule. These early 787s would have benefited from the second blockpoint weight improvements that are planned for LN20.
Of the first 30 787s being built, 24 are production standard aircraft. Since 2007, seven of 12 787 launch customers have deferred their deliveries of the block of the first 30 aircraft. The five airlines are Delta/Northwest, Air China, Shanghai, China Eastern, Grand China Air, China Southern and now Qantas.
The question becomes which customers backfills the 15 open spots on the 2010 787 delivery calendar. Just last week, Pat Shanahan, vice president of airplane programs at Boeing affirmed that early demand for 787s continued unabated despite the economic downturn. As a result, Boeing maintains its goals for its production pace even with the latest delay in first flight and the uncertainty of the overall schedule.
Long Enough legs?
Before today's order shift, one source very familiar with the airline's planning says that a configuration of up to 330 passengers was being considered for the Jetstar 787-8s to connect Australia to Europe. The source adds that the 787-8 would have been able to perform that mission, but not without two intermediate fuel stops, a reality that likely played into the airline's decision making. The increasing empty weight of the -8 and resulting reduced performance at these high loads would have economically prohibited the high density European routes with the 787-8.
The switch by Qantas to the 787-9 is a further "feather in the cap" for the first 787 derivative, which will benefit from what is learned during flight test on the 787-8 its first years in service with a longer range. Though, the deployment of the -8 beginning toward the end of 2014 on only domestic operations as a 767-300ER replacement within Australia speaks volumes about how the airline perceives the future performance of the airplane and timelines for weight reduction.
AirAsia X Factor
The Jetstar competitive landscape is also crucial to understanding the motivation of the airline. Kuala Lumpur-based Air Asia X has had bold plans to expand its low-cost, long-haul network to the US and to Europe.
Australia Aviation blogger and journalist Ben Sandilands captured the competition:
At the Paris Air Show last week, AirAsia announced a firm order for 10 A350-900 aircraft seating 400 in a two-class layout with a 10-abreast economy seating. First deliveries of the aircraft are due to take place in the first quarter of 2016. Before the delays stalled the program, Jetstar's first 787-8s were to arrive in August 2008, later revised to June 2010.
And AirAsia and Jetstar are competing new model trans border low fare airline franchises. The business models are identical, and not yet fully proven, just like the jets they have chosen for future long haul operations.
Both have international divisions, with AirAsia X the Malaysia based brand's long haul subsidiary already flying A330s to Kuala Lumpur from the Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth, with Sydney expected to be confirmed soon.
Their international ambitions also overlap on the 'kangaroo routes' between Australia and Europe, where the originally promised, repeatedly promised, long range capabilities of the 787-8 would allow Qantas to re-enter markets such as Amsterdam, Rome and Manchester and expand the network into new ones.
Those promises turned to dust. The Qantas strategy for Jetstar, at least as far as timing is concerned, has been usurped by AirAsia X, and to say that senior management has been embarrassed and very unhappy with the situation is an understatement that quickly cost Boeing $292 million in cash compensation.
AirAsia launched service to London-Stansted on March 11th of this year using an A340-300, after detailing its expansion last October. Had the 787-8 arrived in Jetstar's fleet on time in 2008, the airline would've had a low cost carrier with access to the the European market ahead of AirAsia, however the change of forture for the 787 program has given the Malaysian carrier a lead into Europe.
For Jetstar, selecting the larger -9 to launch service to the US and Europe against AirAsia's A350 XWB will pit the larger 787 against its composite rival, with a more equivalent ability to pack its planes in a high capacity configuration.
Because of the need to go back into the detailed design phase for this fix, combined with the need to fabricate, install and test at component and at full scale levels, several sources with a direct familiarity to the situation estimate that the fix will take "months not weeks."
- What is the problem?
- Historical Precedent
- The Fix
12:10 PM: Comment from ANA:
"We are disappointed that the first flight of the 787 will be postponed, and urge Boeing to specify the schedule for the programme as a whole as quickly as possible."10:46 AM: Shanahan and Fancher confirm that the problem stems from 18 points where the center wing box (11) meets the wingbox (12) on each side of the aircraft. The fix, once identified, will be installed on location. ZA001 and ZA002 will be modified directly on the flight line. Boeing has not determined a final fix or the material it will use to fix the join. Fancher says the company is leaning towards titanium or aluminum and the fabriction division is ready to start manufacturing parts as soon as a final fix is identified.
10:01 AM: On the conference call now.
10:00 AM: Early indications from sources signal that the problem was first discovered during static testing in April on ZY997.The problem stems from a design fault in the wing-to-body join area between Section 11 (center wing box) and Section 12 (wing box).
9:40 AM: Boeing postpones 787 first flight citing modifications to the side-of-body section of the aircraft.
EVERETT, Wash., June 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced that first flight of the 787 Dreamliner will be postponed due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.
The need was identified during the recent regularly scheduled tests on the full-scale static test airplane. Preliminary analysis indicated that flight test could proceed this month as planned. However, after further testing and consideration of possible modified flight test plans, the decision was made late last week that first flight should instead be postponed until productive flight testing could occur.
Boeing says a new schedule will be available within several weeks once a modification is identified. Sources tell FlightBlogger that 787 customers were notified earlier today of the new delay. Key questions for the program will surround the timing on the flight test program, delivery schedule and further weight gain on the aircraft.
Boeing will hold a teleconference at 10:00 AM ET with Scott Carson, Pat Shanahan and Scott Fancher. Follow this page for coverage throughout the day.
To celebrate its 25th birthday, Virgin Atlantic did what I wanted to do when I turned 25 last year. The British airline purchased 10 new A330-300s for interim capacity while it waits for the delivery of its first 787-9 aircraft in 2013. The airline will get five in 2011 and another five in 2012. Six of will be acquired under sale and leaseback with AerCap and the remaining four will be leased directly from AerCap. No word on whether or not these six A330-300s were conversions from an outstanding batch of six A340-600s.
Also, Virgin says it is in negotiation for 50 A350 XWB aircraft to replace its 747s with first delivery in 2014.
A newly built Continental 737-900ER (N75436) was rolled out of the Renton factory and flown over the weekend with the retro "Blue Skyway" livery. Quite a good looking paint job, if I do say so myself.
First Tianjin Delivery
As early as Tuesday, Airbus will deliver its first China-built A320 to Sichuan Airlines, marking a major moment in the airframer's 40-year history. The facility will eventually build and deliver four A320 family aircraft per month when production rates begin to climb again as the global economy recovers. At the Paris Air Show, CEO Tom Enders denied a French report of attempted industrial espionage at the Chinese facility.
A little over a week ago, this very humbled airplane geek won an Aerospace Journalist of the Year Award in the Air Transport category for my 787 feature last May. Jetwhine's Rob Mark (who also went home a winner) was kind enough to grab my acceptance speech on video, so there's a permanent record out there. My colleague Niall O'Keeffe also took home the top prize in the Maintenance category for a piece he wrote for Airline Business. A huge congratulations to Flight's Mary Kirby (also known as Runway Girl), Siva Govindasamy and Aimee Turner for their nominations as well.
Paris Video Wrap Up
Mary Kirby and I took our goofiness to the max last Wedneday and the result can be found here. These wrap ups were a great way for Mary and I to blow off a little steam after exceedingly long days at the show. Their news value was questionable some days, but we had a good time and hope you did too. They were all completely ad libbed, so you'll have to bear with us. Thanks for coming along last week, we really had a blast.
First Flight Travel
This Thursday I'm Seattle bound! The FlightBlogger road show will be in full effect as I head west to cover the final days before 787 first flight. Yes, my ticket is open ended, but I still hear June 30th is the date. If the key milestones aren't accomplished this week, then we may know very soon whether or not the date slips to July. Though it's too soon to say one way or another.
So, who's going to be in Seattle this weekend?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Enjoy!
As early as Monday, ZA001 will make a short trip out of Stall 105 and will be towed to the compass rose for calibration of the aircraft's navigation systems.
Following the calibration, the aircraft will be towed back to the fuel dock to be drained of fuel, then brought into Paint Hangar 45-03 to conduct a final pre-flight weight-in. Following that, ZA001 will return to Stall 105 to be fueled, ahead of the two-day final gauntlet which is set to begin on Wednesday.
The final weigh in will determine the zero fuel weight (ZFW) of the aircraft, which includes the ballast barrels and monitoring stations now installed in the cabin of ZA001.
Boeing weighed ZA001 back in late April just before it began the factory gauntlet to establish the operating empty weight (OEW) of the aircraft, which saw the removal of the ballast barrels which will simulate payload during flight test.
Photo Credit Igs
According to Aviation Week, over the last week, round-the-clock engineering tests have continued on ZA001. Tests have included "electrical systems tests along with 'component noise' evaluations" (June 13); fuel verification and air data reference system tests (June 14); mid-air fuel jettison tests; lateral control, rudder and elevator at deflection tests, including trim changes to the horizontal stabilizer (June 15); hydraulic systems tests (June 16), as well as stowing of the the static pressure cone on June 18.
The move represents the falling learning curve as Boeing gains experience preparing its flight test aircraft for flight. Boeing moved ZA002 out of the factory to the fuel dock on June 15th and to Stall 103 on the flight line on June 19th. Compare that roughly four-day span to the 13-days ZA001 spent at the fuel dock before moving to the flight line.
ZA100 FINAL ASSEMBLY
On Wednesday, June 17, Boeing and ANA celebrated the formal commencement of assembly operations for ZA100, the first production 787-8. The aircraft will eventually be registered JA801A and, if all goes to plan, will be handed over to the Japanese airline next February.
For the first 12 to 18 months after entry in to service, the 787 will be restricted to use on regional and domestic routes while the Japanese Civil Aviation Board (JCAB) takes a cautious approach to approving extended twin engine operations (ETOPS). The JCAB will conduct an additional certification outside of the expected ETOPS certification that will come with the 787 by US and European regulatory authorities.
The relationship between Boeing and the Japanese is a longstanding one going back to the launch of the 767 in 1978. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) were invited to build 15% of the 767 airframe. That role was expanded in the 1990s on the 777 with 20% of the airframe and 35% on the 787.
Just as the leaders of ANA and the 787 program celebrated the start of final assembly with a traditional Japanese "Kagami wari" ceremony this past week, the same tradition was observed during the 777 program when a key factory came online to produce new parts for the aircraft in 1993. (see video)
Photo Credit Jim Larsen
Stay with FlightBlogger for on-going coverage of the first flight of the 787, which will soon transition to on-location coverage. Stay tuned.
Shanahan called his company's decision on a second line "more mature and advanced than it was a year ago," emphasizing that Boeing is "not going to ponder [a decision on a second line] a long time."
Boeing has long entertained the idea of a second 787 production line to raise production rates beyond 10 per month to meet customer demand and make up for 22 months worth of program delays.
"The sooner you make a decision, the better. We won't be pressed into making a decision. [It will be] very measured. It won't be emotionally based," said Shanahan.
Though, despite some deferrals from early 787 customers, Shanahan says Boeing is still committed to ramp up 787 production to 10 aircraft per month by 2012.
"The demand is there. Obviously there are factors around things outside the demand like financing issues, but that's so far out there," he added.
Boeing has accumulated 865 order from 56 customers for the 787.
Shanahan added that Boeing is not even discussing the possibility of not meeting the 787 demand forecast.
"Two and a half years isn't that far away, it's just a lot of work and I think second guessing that at this point, would not serve any value now."
Shanahan declined to specify what locations were on the "short list" for a second 787 production line, but said there are "lots of geographical options...the real options are around 'how do you secure assurance of delivery?' And I think that's been a discussion topic around some of the disruption we've realized...at Boeing."
The disruption Shanahan referenced was the 57-day machinist strike that halted jetliner production at Boeing's commercial manufacturing facilities during September and October of 2008.
Likely candidates for a second 787 production line include Everett, Washington, current site of final assembly, San Antonio, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is currently home to center fuselage integration by Global Aeronautica, as well as aft fuselage fabrication by Vought. San Antonio will host refurbishment and change incorporation operations for the six flight test aircraft and early production 787s.
"There are opportunities that we need to assess and I've worked there for 24 years, I like the people in Seattle, I grew up in Seattle, It's a great community, but when you have the customer telling you you're making it really hard to choose your product because when we buy it you can't give it to us," said Shanahan.
Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin Atlantic Airways has 15 787-9 aircraft on order, discussed the disruption in February at the time of delivery of the first 777 for V Australia:
"If people in Seattle build our planes and deliver them on time and, to be frank, don't go on strike, then we'll continue to work with Boeing. If we have our airline completely messed up, with tremendous damage done to our own work force, then we'll go to Embraer or Airbus."
"We have a have a hard time explaining it to our shareholders how we're making some of these decisions," Shanahan added. "I think this is more the corporate responsibility piece is to evaluate all scenarios. I won't speak to specifics of those scenarios, but [it is] something we're evaluating, considering our options quite seriously and make a determination on a broad variety of criteria."
Shanahan cited "functional logistics" and access to "skilled labor...and high tech skills" as key criteria in any decision.
We're goofy, we're tired, we're over caffeinated and we're at the Paris Air Show. Mary Kirby and I bring you the second exciting installment of our (slightly off the wall) wrap up on the 2nd day the show. We discuss the big Air Asia order, MD-80s and the themes we are seeing this week.
By the end of this week, the outtake reel is going to be ridiculous.
Here's Tuesday's rundown:
- Qatar Airways issues stern warning to Boeing to quickly resolve 787 delay issues
- GEnx-2B for 747-8 close to completing testing
- Finmeccanica confident of M-346 contract 'this week'
- Boeing eyes further growth in India's defence market
- Low-cost mini UAV launches at Paris
- ATR boosts its -600 backlog
- Susi Air receives third PC-6
- Pratt urges single suppler strategy for JSF
- AirAsia X orders up to 15 A350s
- EADS chief engineer champions green technologies
- IAE wins new engine business from Air China
- Taiwan's AIDC invited to participate in Chinese aircraft programme
- Boeing mulls long-haul options
- ACG to partner on new Egyptian lessor joint venture
- Bell Boeing awarded $11 million to improve V-22 reliability
- ATR's new corporate focus
- CAE to help build virtual CSeries for total testing
- Bombardier eyes 2012 CSeries first flight as development picks up
- Airbus tests vegetable oils
- Air Nostrum orders up to 20 ATR 72-600s
- GE and ST Aerospace gear up for GEnx support
- Alenia doubles C-27J fleet to meet FAA cert schedule
- GEnx strip tease worth the wait
- F136 revs up thrust setting
- Antonov looking for An-70 revival
- Face the facts with Superjet International's Franzoni
- Can open rotor deliver?
- Pratt to begin detailed design of geared turbofan in July
- Raytheon demonstrates surface-launched AIM-9X
- Astrium restates commitment to suborbital flights
- Titanium nuts could save Airbus A350 XWB 100kg plus mass
- Hawker Beechcraft committed to playing it safe
- Boeing and GE partner on Bondtracer
- Aeronautics' Orbiter-3 to make first flight in August
- Dubai air show continues to grow
- How 'fusion man' flies like a bird
- Korean picks Advantage70 for A330s
- GE and NASA to evaluate open rotor fan-blade systems
- Airbus creates IMAX-style cinema inside A350 fuselage mock-up
- Visit the Flightglobal media lounge
- Top gongs for Flightglobal scribes
- Northrop/EADS rules out A330-200F for KC-X
- Face the facts with Giorgio Zappa
- One small step for unmanned aircraft, one giant leap for the Paris air show
- Atlantic Airways signs up for CFM56s
- Maritime, SAR markets face Viking invasion
- Society of British Aerospace Companies sounds industry warning
GE partnered with Boeing to build on the US airframer's Ramp Damage Checker for inspecting composite structure in the event that it is struck by ground handling equipment, as often happens during the normal course of airline operations.
The Bondtracer is designed for use on the 787, but can also be used for any aircraft with composite structure and will accommodate the Airbus A350 XWB in the future.
Damage to carbon fibre is often difficult to determine because the surface often reflects no visible harm. However, beneath the skin of the aircraft sub-surface delamination of the fibre can be difficult to see with the naked eye and can undermine aircraft structural integrity if left unaddressed.
"Carbon fibre composites require different processes for evaluating impact and performing non-destructive inspection," says Thierry Laffont, Aerospace Segment Manager at GE Sensing & Inspection Technologies.
"Our goal with Bondtracer is to provide ramp crews with a simple device to quickly determine when more extensive inspection is required. The solution allows airlines to ensure safety while increasing efficiency and productivity," Laffont adds.
Boeing received US Federal Aviation Administration approval for the 787's maintenance plan in December 2008.
GE likens Bondracer to a common stud-finder, with a green light indicating consistent undamaged thickness and a red light indicated an unanticipated change in thickness. The tool is designed for ramp personnel with no non-destructive training or certification.
The 787 will enter service with Japan's All Nippon Airways in the first quarter of 2010.
Image Credit GE Sensing & Inspection
Via Air Transport Intelligence:
PARIS 2009: AirAsia X orders up to 15 A350sPhoto Courtesy Mark Pilling
Paris (16 Jun 09 15:33 GMT)
AirAsia X has ordered 10 Airbus A350-900 aircraft and placed options on five more.
The Malaysian low-cost long-haul carrier disclosed the agreement at the Paris Air Show today.
First deliveries of the aircraft are due to take place in the first quarter of 2016.
AirAsia X had been weighing up the A350 against the Boeing 787 but earlier this month indicated it had settled on the Airbus twin-jet.
A350s are currently available only with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine.
Dreamliner Two, fully painted in launch customer ANA's colors, moved to the fuel dock on June 15th and beginning its march to first flight, expected to follow within weeks after ZA001 takes to the sky.
Boeing says fuel testing began immediately on the aircraft, registered N787EX, and will follow with the first start of the Hamilton Sundstrand auxiliary power unit in the days to come.
Tucked into the back of the final assembly line, all the structural sections for the first production 787 (ZA100) have arrived. The last piece, an integrated center fuselage barrel from Global Aeronautica, landed in Everett after its cross country flight from Charleston, SC on June 14th.
As per Boeing tradition, sources say the aircraft is adorned with a banner reading "Building with pride, the first 787 for ANA".
The wings for the first production 787 are currently in the join position in the Everett factory, and will be soon followed by the forward, center and aft fuselage sections, officially kicking off the first production body join of a majority composite commercial jetliner.
Japan's All Nippon Airways is expected to take delivery of this airplane, the seventh flying 787, in the February 2010.
Photo Credit Boeing
***Editor's Note: Boeing's Pat Shanahan will be briefing the media with a formal 787 program update midday here in Paris.
Watch Max Kingsley-Jones and I discuss this morning's Boeing briefing.PARIS -- Boeing is actively studying two new derivatives of its long haul products and a clean sheet design to create a competing product against the Airbus A350 XWB.
Speaking at his company's Paris air show media briefing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Scott Carson said that the double stretch 787-10, a re-winged 777 or an all new design are "potentially competing alternatives" to meet future customer needs.
The 787-10 would fill the spot currently occupied by the 777-200ER seating 305 passengers, while touting a comparable or longer range than the current offering of 13,890km (7,500nm).
Boeing is also exploring upgrades to its existing 777 with new cockpit technologies and fresh wing design for the large twinjet.
"We look at studies of all nature," says Carson. "Some...studies could even include such things in the future as potentially re-winging the airplane. And while no commitments have been made, each study has become a vital part of how we extend the utility and increase the value of [the 777]."
"Both the -10 and a re-winged, upgraded, improved 777 can offer great utility for customers. The trick is to find the one that addresses the needs most broadly so we can have broad-based market success," says Carson.
Carson says that the 787-10 and 777 re-wing are "not necessarily linked today " but adds that he and his company is actively working with customers to identify their requirements, find a product that will best address them and then exploring the feasibility of such a venture.
Carson also says that a third option, a clean sheet design, is being considered as well if the 777 re-wing and 787-10 are deemed to be lacking.
Carson declined to specify either a proposed cost for a re-winged 777 or a timeline to achieve such a goal, though Carson indicated that the development and definition of Airbus's A350 XWB would be a key factor in the decision making.
"Certainly we pay attention to the capability of that airplane, and not only the capability which will be demonstrated as the airplane goes into flight-test and the way the airplane is being marketed because that creates marketing expectations and allows people to think outside the box about what the world will look like in the future," says Carson.
Airbus plans to have the A350-900, which competes directly with the 777-200ER, flying by 2012, with an entry into service the following year.
Carson also declined to mention that if the green light is given to the 787-10 whether it would be the second or third 787 derivative after the stretched -9 or the short range -3.
Photo Credit Boeing
Qatar Airways announced orders for 24 A320 family aircraft this morning at the Paris Air Show. The order is split between 20 A320s and four A321s. Delivery of the aircraft will begin in 2010 and Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker says the delivery slots were reserved as part of the
airline's 2008 order at the Farnborough Air Show, not taken from another carrier's deferrals. The 24 aircraft will be powered by IAE V2500 engines. The new narrowbodies will be deployed on Eastern Europe and south west Asia services.
Al Baker says it is ready to launch a low cost carrier in 90 days using an A321 if its market share is eroded by competitors.
Al Baker adds that the new airplanes will feature the latest Thales
IFE and eventually in-flight connectivity.
However, program sources indicate that the timeline laid out by Boeing represent a zero-margin plan to achieve first flight by the close of the month, and say milestones could occur earlier than planned.
The June 30th target also represents the last day of Boeing's quarter long window of achieving first flight, before it slips into the second quarter of 2009.
The schedule has ZA001 preparing for the final gauntlet during the coming week, followed by at least two days of final gauntlet testing early next week.
At the conclusion of the final gauntlet, Boeing will further inspect ZA001 in preparation for the 787s first roll under its own power with taxi tests late next week and into the weekend. Once again, ZA001 will undergo its final top-to-bottom, wingtip to wingtip inspection before its first flight which is tentatively schedule for the last day of the month at 10 o'clock in the morning Pacific time.
On June 12, Boeing installed the trailing static pressure cone to calibrate the static air pressure error of the aircraft's pitot-static system during flight. The cone generally trails the aircraft 1 to 1.5 times the length of the wingspan. The system is required by Part 91 of the FAR "where precision flight calibrations are used to quantify or verify altimetry system performance."
According to Aviation Week, report that tests conducted this past weekend were expected to include checks of the 787's stall warning system as well as the interface between the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and its electronic engine control (EEC) system. Adding that additional fuel system verification tests on ZA001 set for today.
PRODUCTION RAMP UPDATE
Boeing and its supplier partners have agreed to remove all traveled work from the 787 supply chain by Airplane 14, said Alenia North America's chief executive Giuseppe Giordo.
In addition, Giordo also confirmed the 300 day flow of center fuselage sections through Global Aeronautica in Charleston, SC and that the company was working to reduce that number.
Steve Trimble also contributed to this report
UPDATE: Boeing Commercial Airplane CEO Scott Carson said today that the first flight window is now open and expects the first 787 to fly within the next two weeks by the close of the month.
***Editor's Note: Relocated Scott Carson comment. Mr. Carson commented only that first flight would happen by the close of the month and not during the Paris Air Show. Any additional information comes directly from program sources.Photo Credit Jim Larsen
PARIS -- Day One has arrived at the Paris Air Show and despite a global economic downturn, spirits seem to be relatively high in anticipation for the aerospace industry's largest gathering. The air show, like Flight International Magazine, celebrates its 100th birthday this year. (Little known fact: The first issue was a show report from Paris.)
There's a sense that the industry is eager to get back to business as usual, remind the world that it is very much open for business. So much of this industry (and the economy at large) is driven by psychology and a collective morale boost is just what the doctor ordered. Though the trend in the media coverage so far tends to lean to the gloomy side of things.
The show appears weighted more than usual to the defense side of the business, which is not at the mercy of financing or civil passenger traffic, compared to 2007 which saw 6000 combined orders (actually 728 for Airbus & 125 for Boeing were announced, but still!)
I submit to you a series of rumors and innuendos (like last year) for the 2009 Paris Air Show.
The quickly growing Doha based airline is widely expected to announce an order on the first day for narrowbody aircraft, potentially in response to the recent launch of FlyDubai. Qatar unveiled a previous narrowbody order at Farnborough last year and this could be another in a series.
Why would an airline in Malaysia sponsor a football team in Oakland? Well, if you'd like to fly there one day AND raise your global brand awareness, you might be smart to do that. However, the distance between KUL and OAK is 7,371 nm, which is right up against the upper, upper edge of the range for the A340-300. Perhaps another long range aircraft type is in the cards?
This could go either way. The airline's recent 777-300ER order was a big boost in the direction of updating THY's fleet. I don't see it beyond the realm of possibilities if we see a mid-size or narrowbody selection. The airline is still taking delivery of new 737-800s, so I'd say it's less likely than a mid-size purchase.
I'm going to throw out a wild card order for this week. What about Continental? I'd call it a long shot, but I've heard at least one credible rumor about some new planes. Then again, this is the pinnacle of grapevine blogging.
We already have engine selections from Etihad for its A380s, 787s and A320s and Air Nostrum upped its CRJ1000 order to 35 and confirmed its status as launch customer for the type. Moving forward from the civilian orders side, there may be a few more surprises, but I tend to think that the list above covers the likely candidates.
Stay tuned, I have a feeling this Paris Air Show might end up surprising everyone.
Winglets. Winglets. Winglets. At the Innovation Days press event last month, AIrbus said they would reveal the results of its A320 winglet flight test program about the time of the Paris Air Show. This technology has the potential to leapfrog over the new 2% efficiency improvements set for 2011 EIS on the 737. If the A320 leaps too far for Boeing, could this accelerate the competition's replacement narrowbody? Also, look for further discussion on A380 production and A350 XWB design.
Briefings with Scott Carson on Monday morning and Pat Shanahan on Tuesday will make for some interesting news on many fronts, not the least of which is 787. Look for clarity on first flight and the likely opening of a two week window to the maiden sortie, as well as an update on 747-8, P-8A and Tanker. It will be important for Boeing to address further questions about the production ramp up (re:2010 customer demand) and flight test plan and to expand on the lessons learned during the intermediate gauntlet and its public plans for certifying the 787.
What about Vought? The company is notably absent from the show. The same murmurs of a deal with Boeing keep getting louder and louder and gain more and more clarity. This is something to keep an eye on as the week progresses. This could be the sleeper story of the show.
Does a five year old airplane need an upgrade? The E-Jets have had an excellent run these last few years and market satisfaction with the product appears very high. Though, is the status quo enough to sustain the E-Jets? Look for the comments of Embraer leadership for guidance on what to expect from the company in the coming years to stave off threats from CSeries and MRJ. PW1000G? New aerodynamics?
The Canadian airframer stole Farnborough last year with its early announcement of the launch and its first letter of interest for CSeries. With firm 50 orders this year booked, Bombardier may have more to share about its new narrowbody as the show goes on, I wouldn't bet on Qatar Airways to grab a batch any time soon. Also, we should be getting updates on CSeries design, as well as CRJ1000 certification.
The airline has selected the General Electric GEnx for its 35 Boeing 787s, the Engine Alliance GP7200 for its 10 Airbus A380s and International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500s for its A320s.
The engine order is valued at about $6.7 billion, potentially making it the largest order of the show by value.
Etihad was originally to take four test A380s which would have been delivered with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.
But when it increased its order to 10 A380s the carrier opted for all-new aircraft, opening the door for Engine Alliance to flip the engine order in its favour.
The order marks a significant blow to Rolls-Royce which offers the Trent 900 and 1000 engines for the A380 and 787 respectively.
Engine Alliance is a joint venture between Pratt & Whitney and GE while International Aero Engines (IAE) is a partnership between Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.
Etihad's order at the 2008 Farnborough Air Show comprised firm purchases of 35 787-9s and 10 777-300ERs from Boeing and 20 Airbus A320s, 25 A350 XWBs and 10 A380s.
The airline also holds options on a further five A320s, five A380s, 10 A350s, 25 787s and purchase rights for 15 A320s, 15 A350s, five A380s, 10 787s and five 777s.
Boeing's 777-300ER and Airbus's A350 XWB offer a single choice of engine.
David Kaminski-Morrow also contributed to this report.
Photo Credit Boeing
The two-seat AT-3 Rotax piston-powered aircraft is manufactured by Warsaw based Aero Ltd. and will be the smallest manned aircraft in this year's flying display. The aircraft is used as a basic trainer for flight schools or flying clubs.
Jacques Thomas, a 20,000-hour retired Air France Captain, will take the AT-3 into the skies over Le Bourget. Captain Thomas is an instructor at the Air France Aero Club, which owns six of the type based at Toussus Le Noble Airport southwest of Paris.
Marc Hemery, Aero Ltd. sales representative for France and the Middle East, says the company has delivered 50 aircraft to European customers under certification by EASA as a very light aircraft since 2005. Aero also manufactures the AT-4, the US FAA light sport certificated version of the AT-3, which currently has about 60 aircraft in service.
The two-seat aircraft will be on display during the show between the Piaggio and Dassault static stands.
Photo Credit Billypix
This might be news getting picky, but is this the first photo of the final A350 design with the landing gear extended? It's the first I've seen of it. I spotted it on the ATK Chalet. First air show appearance should be Farnborough 2012.
Arrived in Paris this morning and now the whole Flightglobal.com team is getting set up here at Le Bourget for the very busy week ahead. The weather is beautiful (we're told it won't last) and we're enjoying it while we can (indoors). The video above provides a sense of the scale of the show. Nothing here is subtle. Very special thanks to Steve Trimble for capturing the video above. Make sure you watch it with the sound on.
On June 12, 1994, John Cashman, and his first officer, Ken Higgins lifted off in N7771 from Runway 34L at Paine Field for the Boeing 777-200's maiden flight, and the rest, so to speak, is history. I submit the following item from the time capsule to celebrate the goings on of that June day in the Pacific Northwest. In case you're wondering, this post was set to publish at exactly 11:43 AM PT, fifteen years to the minute when 777 first flight got underway.
Photo Credit Jim Larsen
Just boarded this United Airlines 777-200(ER?) for my flight to LHR. I
wish I knew the registration. Help anyone? Flight 918 IAD-LHR. Paris
on Saturday. Let the whirlwind begin.
UAL918 Flight Plan - KIAD - EGLL:
SWANN V268 BROSS J42 RBV ACK WHALE N23E LOMPI N21C JAROM NATW SOMAX NATW KENUK UL739 GAPLI UR8 GIBSO OCK2E
From Randy Tinseth's Blog:
During gauntlet, as I mentioned, ZA001 is being operated just as if it were in flight. The only difference is it's still on the ground. We have pilots at the controls and a team of engineers at work stations in the back of the airplane. The doors are closed and everybody is on board for the duration of the "flight." Believe it or not, meals are served on board and the lavatories are working!
My colleague Max Kinglsey-Jones tackled the accelerated pace of development before next year's start of parts manufacturing in A350 XWB ready to rock. This month's 163-page issue also features a great micro cutaway of the new long-range twin.
I had the opportunity to take a look back at the year since Flight last examined the state of the 787 program. Realising the 787 dream also details the path forward to understanding the ambitious flight test methodology, future weight reduction and performance enhancements, as well as prospects for the production ramp up all leading to first delivery next year to ANA.
If you're just seeing this blog for the first time and are just learning about the 787 Dreamliner (welcome!), consider my May 2008 article and this month's Paris feature great ways to get caught up in a hurry ahead of first flight later this month.
As for the week ahead for this blogger, I'll be heading to Europe on Wednesday evening (UA 777) for a short stay in London at Flight HQ and then down to Paris via train (yes train) for the air show.
Flightglobal.com will have all its bases covered for this show. We'll have our Media Hub set up where the editorial team will be hard at work, but please feel free to stop by and say hello.
Make sure you're following my Twitter feed for the latest show developments, as well as the feeds for all my colleagues.
"We are asking ourselves if we are really going to take delivery of the 10 planes," said Udvar-Hazy at this years IATA general meeting in Kuala Lumpur to German business weekly Wirtschaftswoche.
Udvar-Hazy cited changing market dynamics and waning interest in the European superjumbo as the factors driving the lessors decision making.
ILFC says it can cancel its order without penalty between January and June 2009, with options of delivery deferral or conversion to another aircraft type also being considered. It would be the first cancellation for the passenger version of the A380.
Udvar-Hazy expressed concern about the aircraft's ability to operate on as many routes as previously expected, adding that "interest is weaker than expected in particular among the Chinese."
"In this recession, operating economics are critical," said Sir Richard Branson exclusively to FlightBlogger.
"Airlines need to ensure that they have the right number of seats during a period of lower demand otherwise their bills are going to be unmanageable. A380 operators will be questioning if they've got the right aircraft at the right time and whether they can make it a profitable aircraft type over the next two years," said Branson.
Virgin Atlantic Airways holds firm orders for 6 A380 aircraft.
The A380 is good for niche routes but "if Dubai - New York doesn't work, I'm not sure what does," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for the Teal Group.
Emirates, the largest customer for the A380, downsized its Dubai - New York-JFK flight on June 1st from a daily A380 to 777-300ER after poor load factors on the route.
ILFC's order for ten A380s is valued at $3 billion and is the only lessor to have placed an order for the type.
Udvar-Hazy also sees the estimated $25 million cost of converting the airplane from one airline to another as prohibitively for lessors. Adding, that the development of the A380 freighter variant is "dead."
Udvar-Hazy sees the slowing A380 production rate as a threat to Airbus as well.
"If I were Airbus I would be very worried," said Udvar-Hazy. "At current production rhythms, it will be very hard to make money with this plane," he said.
Airbus announced a 2009 A380 production cut on May 6th from 18 to 14 aircraft, with "more than 20" planned for delivery in 2010.
Aboulafia sees "no hope" that Airbus will ever be able to pay back its non-recurring launch costs and that the A380 program will survive on cash flow enabled by accelerated production, though the economy leaves the company in a precarious situation as it looks to the future.
"What matters now is the A350. That's a seriously important plane," says Aboulafia.
Airbus holds orders for 200 A380s from 16 customers.
Boeing confirms the completion of second phase of gauntlet testing and Aviation Week reports that the intermediate wrapped up during the afternoon of June 7th. The testing put all 92 of the 787s systems through extensive testing as then aircraft was 'fooled' into thinking it was conducting real flights.
During the gauntlet, the aircraft could be seen running through various take off and landing approach configurations as ZA001 conducted its simulated flights. For example, extending spoilers on 'touchdown' followed by a reconfiguration of the control surfaces and a full power run up to simulate a touch-and-go landing.
This evening (June 7) Boeing test engineers plan to conduct a systems test monitoring evaluation which was last run in the last few days of May, just prior to the start of the intermediate gauntlet. This is therefore seen as a clear sign that the start of final gauntlet tests is imminent.Block Nineteen - Flight control 'sweeps' for software refinement and telemetry testing. June 5
Block Twenty - Further flight control system check out. Late June 5
Block Twenty-one - Hydraulics testing. June 6
Block Twenty-two - Electrical systems testing. June 6
Block Twenty-three & Twenty-four - Common Core System tests. Overnight June 6
Block Twenty-five - Final electrical system testing. Afternoon June 7
During this weekend, ZA002 underwent testing of the Earth Reference System which feeds position, speed, course and heading data to the 787's navigation system. The ERS is the key component of the Inertial Reference System (IRS) which is the integrated system combining the traditional ADIRU (Air Data Inertial Reference Unit) and SAARU (Secondary Attitude and Air Data Reference Unit). The left side of the overhead panel is home to the IRS flight deck controls aboard the 787, with a Right and Left activation switch. This differs from the 777 overhead panel which has just the single ADIRU pushbutton.
Early next week will bring two more program milestones when ZA002 heads to the fuel dock as early as Tuesday. Like ZA001 before it, the fuel system will be tested and calibrated and the Hamilton Sundstrand APS 5000 auxiliary power unit will be run for the first time while parked at the Fuel Dock. Across the country, Section 43 for the for the 14th flying 787 will arrive in Charleston at Global Aeronautica from Kawasaki in Nagoya, Japan.
Lastly, Air Transport Intelligence reports that the first
JAL, which served along side ANA as launch customer for the short to mid-range 787-3, has abandoned its order for the type, instead converting the 13 it had on order to 787-8s. JAL's total 787 order still stands at 35 aircraft.
JAL was unreachable for comment, however Boeing confirms that the accuracy of its public orderbook.
ANA also has converted some of the 787-3s it has on order to 787-8s. According to Boeing's orderbook, 22 787-8s and 28 787-3s are now reflected, a shifting of two aircraft to the long range model.
ANA's original order that launched the 7E7 in 2004 for fifty aircraft was split between 30 787-3s and 20 787-8s.
Boeing initially planned to have the 787-3 enter service between the 787-8 and 787-9, but suspended design work on the aircraft in favor of allocating resources to the development of the stretched -9 variant. Boeing has always maintained that it plans to build the -3, but declines to publicly specify a timeline, saying only that it will come after the -9.
Boeing says it is remains "committed to developing the 787-3 in partnership with launch customer ANA."
The 787-3 was marketed specifically for the Japanese carriers as it offered a platform for high-density domestic operations to smaller gate-constrained airports.
In addition, ANA confirms it is the responsible party for cancelling five 767-300ER aircraft it had on order with the American airframer.
Boeing's updated orderbook posted May 28th reflected five new orders for 787 aircraft and five cancelled orders for 767 aircraft from unidentified customers.
The reduction in the 767 backlog appears to have come out of a September 2008 order from ANA for nine 767-300ERs, now listed as four.
ANA attributes the cancellations to changes in the 787 delivery schedule reducing the need for interim capacity from 767-300ERs. FlightBlogger reported in April that ANA had assumed early 787 delivery spots previously held by Chinese airlines, significantly increasing the Japanese airline's early 787s fleet.
"We work very closely with all our customers to understand their evolving fleet requirements," says Boeing. "Occasionally we and our customers make order adjustments that better support their overall fleet needs, while allowing us to successfully manage our production plan."
The initial order by the Japanese carrier came in response to the near two-year delay in delivery of the first of fifty 787s the carrier has on order.
The nine aircraft, which were part of a compensation package for the delayed 787, were originally set for delivery in 2010 and 2011, said a spokesperson for the company at the time of the order.
ANA was originally supposed to take delivery of its first 787 in May 2008, but Boeing delayed the program several times after suffering production and design changes that slid first delivery to the Japanese carrier by 22 months to February 2010.
Boeing says that the order for five 787s did come from an existing customer, brining the total backlog to 866 from 56 customers.
The addition of five aircraft to the 787 backlog does not, however, signal that the order was a conversion of 767-300ERs to 787s by ANA.
Boeing adds that the first six flight test aircraft remain unallocated and the five new 787s booked will be production standard aircraft.
Boeing has stuck closely to it round-the-clock 24-hour testing schedule for ZA001, which began on Friday evening.
Video captured on Monday afternoon (June 1st) of smoke coming from Dreamliner One's engines was reported by the Seattle Times to be a "gauntlet relight test." The test, which appears to have been a part of Block Six testing, has flight test teams interrupting and "aborting the engine start-up just shy of fuel ignition," citing a Boeing source familiar with the situation. The smoke, the paper added, was un-ignited evaporating fuel.
According to Boeing, "this was the expected result for the test condition."
Aviation Week detailed the eighteen testing blocks (1-7, 8-12 & 13-18) that ZA001 has/will run through over the last week.
- Block Six - More test "flights" for the propulsion and electrical systems. Pre-dawn June 1
- Block Seven & Eight - Electrical, ECS and hydraulics. 2nd half of June 1
- Block Nine - Hydraulics and Flight Control Systems. Early June 2
- Block Ten & Eleven - Flight controls & Environmental Control Systems tests Late June 2
- Block Twelve - Re-run of Common Core System testing. Overnight June 2
- Block Thirteen - Electrical systems testing. Pre-dawn June 3
- Block Fourteen - Environmental Control Systems testing. Morning June 3
- Block Fifteen - Common Core System tests. June 3
- Block Sixteen - Electrical systems tests. Early June 4
- Block Seventeen - Pilot 'conditioning' and preparations for flight. June 4
- Block Eighteen - Final CCS evaluations. Late June 4 into early June 5
Meanwhile, the center fuselage for ZA100, the first production 787, continues to be worked on at Global Aeronautica. Originally planned for delivery late last month, Boeing opted to hold the center fuselage in Charleston, SC to eliminate any traveled work and limit additional out of sequence assembly in Everett to match the readiness of other structural sections. The center fuselage is the final major structural assembly awaiting delivery to Everett, after the vertical tail was shipped from Frederickson, WA last week.
According to several sources, the forward fuselage for ZA100, which was delivered on May 26 from Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita, arrived at 100% completion of assembly.
Richard "Buck" Buchanan, senior vice president for Spirit's fuselage business segment says the company is currently capable of delivering shipsets at a rate of seven per month, if Boeing orders such a rate increase.
Buchanan says the Boeing is holding a lower rate of deliveries early on to limit the amount of change incorporation it would have to do on already assembled production aircraft.
Spirit will operate at a two shipset per month delivery rate for the second half of 2009 and hold that rate into 2010 until Boeing signals its readiness to ramp up.
Boeing plans to deliver 10 787s per month by 2012.
Buchanan, whose comments came at Spirit's Investor Day, adds that the company will deliver 10 to 12 787 shipsets in 2009 to Boeing's final assembly operations in Everett, Washington.
Buchanan adds that "Line Unit 17", or the 10th production airplane, will be the final 2009 delivery in December of this year.
The company has shipped three forward fuselages so far this year, including one for the first production 787 set for delivery to Japan's All Nippon Airways in the first quarter of 2010.
Spirit is responsible for fabrication of the forward fuselage (section 41), the leading edges of the wings and engine pylons for the 787-8.
Right now the only ubiquitous way to have a real time track of an aircraft is with a traditional radar system over or nearby land. Oceans present a unique challenge to aircraft crossing without radar coverage, even though it is done without incident hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day.
Since the early 1990s, pilots have used a system called FANS (Future Air Navigation System) that uses CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) and the older ACARS (Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System) in lieu of voice communication with ATC. The CPDLC runs on ground based and satellite communications via Inmarsat.
Pilots interface with CPDLC via Flight Management Systems (747-400), Datalink Control & Display Unit (DCDU) panels (A330/A340) or Multi-Function Displays (A380, 777 & 787) to send/receive position reports, emergencies, route/speed/altitude changes, enroute weather reports and oceanic crossing clearances.
While cutting down the workload for both pilots and air traffic controllers, CPDLC was never intended to provide live flight tracking over the ocean. Instead, aircraft report their position at demarcated waypoints along the oceanic crossing and tell controllers when they expect to cross the next waypoint.
I ask: If it can be done on our cell phones, why not for our aircraft?
Air France 447 made a radio call crossing intersection INTOL, before the ACARS fault message was received from the aircraft about 54 nm from intersection TASIL, though the exact location of the crash is unknown as crews have begun to locate debris.
This leads directly into the biggest leap in air traffic control technology since the system was first created in the 1940s. The Next Generation Air Transport System, or Next Gen as it's known, will see the implementation of satellite based aircraft tracking with the GPS, called Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B). ADS-B technology transmits the location of the aircraft to within a few hundred feet of accuracy to both ground stations and other aircraft, rather than the 1-2 miles of accuracy with traditional radar.
The FAA plans to roll out Next Gen and ADS-B over almost a decade or longer, with airlines and industry groups pushing regulatory agencies to both move up deadlines for aircraft equipage and provide additional financial incentives to outfit aircraft. The ground-based portion of the system is expected to be deployed by 2013, but aircraft outfitting timelines remain an open question.
Right now, the FAA is providing financial assistance to United and US Airways to equip 747-400s and A330s with ADS-B equipment for trial testing, respectively. US Airways will have ADS-B on 20 of 25 of its new A330-200s for Atlantic crossings into Philadelphia. United will install the system on 12 747-400s for testing on Pacific flights between San Fransisco and Australia.
Australia announced in March that it plans to require all aircraft traveling through its airspace above FL290 by December 12, 2013 to comply with ADS-B requirements. The new air traffic system will cover the continent, as well as significant parts of its oceanic airspace. Though the Australians scaled back the plan as it took into account the pace of ATC developments in both Europe and the United States.
As the entire world looks for clues to the cause of Flight 447, technologies that make long haul air travel into areas without radar coverage safer may find themselves at the forefront of the lessons learned. Even if it is found that the cause of the crash is unrelated, a global situational awareness of aircraft position can help speed search and rescue missions, as well as aid in future accident investigations.
Advanced air navigation technologies have come out of air disasters before. In 1974, the FAA mandated Part 121 operators to install ground proximity warning systems in the wake of several controlled flight into terrain accidents in the early 1970s and later expanded that requirement to even smaller aircraft over the last thirty years.
Could this tragedy be the spur for global ADS-B coverage?
"Our forecast now reflect impact from the global economic slowdown," said CEO Elmer Doty.
Doty cited production cuts on the 777, G450 & G550, A330/A340 and slowing ramp ups on the 767 and 747-8, an uncertain C-17 budget, as well as Cessna's decision to suspend the Citation Columbus program as the cause of the 2010 re-assessment.
"While decreases in production are inherent to the cyclical nature of our business each announcement has had an impact to our plan, mostly impacting 2010 and we continue to adjust our resource allocation accordingly. While we remain optimistic on the industry's long term fundamentals we are nonetheless prepared with additional contingency plans should things deteriorate further as some analysts suggest may happen."This hits Vought at a time when the company was already coming out of financial trouble during the higher part of the industrial cycle. The downturn is likely to hit Vought hard, by its own admission. So what does the future hold for this company?
With Boeing's ambitious 787 ramp-up getting underway, 2010 will especially challenging for the airframer, and maintaining a stable supply chain is paramount.
If Vought gets in serious financial trouble, would/could Boeing step in and buy the company's Charleston operations to ensure an uninterrupted flow in production? The aft fuselage for the 787, is fabricated and integrated at Vought's North Charleston, SC facility.
The 787 program's general manager and VP, recently answered (in a general sense) "Yes."
Here's Scott Fancher's quote (in its entirety) on Boeing's approach to its supply chain and the circumstances under which it would switch/assist a 787 supplier:
You know, you get into a situation where either some of the first tiers, or their sub-tiers simply aren't able to perform, now there could be a lot of reasons for that, could be that their in financial stress, could be that technically they've run into a situation they can't handle or could be the complexity of the production of the product that they've designed is beyond their capability, so we tend to look at the root cause of the non-performance and how can we help them succeed.Boeing has already shown its willingness to assume control of parts of its 787 supply chain as it did with the 50% purchase of Vought's share of Global Aeronautica in 2008. Already, staff at the Charleston facility have noted an significant influx of new Boeing staff and contractors.
Generally speaking, switching to another supplier will take more time and cost more money than helping a current supplier perform, so that tends to be the lion share of our focus. Now, to bring the broad based best of Boeing to bear on this looking at resources of BCA, IDS or one of our technology organizations to help these suppliers along the way. Sometimes the help is financial in nature, we'd like to avoid doing that but it's unfortunate and that is an alternative at some point.
And only in an extreme case of true non-performance do we really look at switching suppliers. Now, it does happen and clearly as we go forward we'll look at some re-balancing of work scope as we sort through where work is most efficiently and cost effectively done, but by and large the focus is on helping our supply chain succeed, not moving the work in a rapid fashion [with travelled work]. Emphasis Added.
Many in the analyst community have expressed significant misgivings about the financial future for Vought, declining to discuss the situation on the record, but add that Boeing is mum on any discussions about the future of one of its key 787 suppliers. For Vought's parent company, The Carlyle Group, it has been a tumultuous year as the group was hit hard by the financial crisis, suffering significant liquidity issues. A big boost in cash for Carlyle might act as a stabilizing force.
If we let this hypothetical play out a bit, then its reasonable to think that Boeing has no need/desire to own the whole of Vought. "Re-balancing" the 787 work scope is one thing, taking on extensive aerostructures manufacturing infrastructure is another. Vought serves many non-Boeing products that company wouldn't need to be involved in such as A330/A340 and G350/G450/G500/G550 programs.
I'm inclined to say that if all of Vought is divested by Carlyle, another major aerostructures supplier would want the remaining non-787 parts of the company. But who?
Slide 29 of the Spirit Aerosystems 2008 investor day offers an interesting hint. The slide, titled "More New Business Opportunities" outlines future areas the company would like to be involved. On the lower left corner the company identifies "Regional and Business Jets" as an area of interest. The two pictures displayed are of the Cessna Citation X "fuselage and wing" and Gulfstream G450 "propulsion". Curiously, Vought is responsible for the manufacture of both the wings of the Citation X and the G450 engine nacelle.
Spirit has never been shy about its desire to grow its aerostructures footprint, and Vought's Nashville and Dallas - its two biggest facilities - might further bolster its commercial portfolio with expansion of its workshare on 747-8, A330/A340, as well as Cessna and Gulfstream products.
So where does this leave Vought? The future for the company appears uncertain, even by its own admission. All signs point to Boeing and Spirit trying to answer exactly this question too. Stay tuned.
This video was shot on board the flight deck of a Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200 (A7-ACB) and provides a VERY detailed look at the controls and displays of the long-haul twinjet. I recommend watching with the HD setting on to see all the detail. Like Air France, Qatar's A330s are also powered by General Electric CF6-80 engines. I didn't have a movie for today, so this hopefully will serve as a substitute, albeit considerably shorter than usual.
The Airbus A330-203 (F-GZCP), which went missing about 3.5 hrs after its departure from Rio De Janeiro enroute to Paris, was manufactured in 2005 with its first flight on February 25th followed by delivery on April 4th of that same year. The aircraft was the 660th A330 built by Airbus and was deployed on flights from Paris to cities like Bangalore, Philadelphia, Cairo, New York and Dubai.
In June 2005, F-GZCP (40J/179Y), powered by two General Electric CF6-80E1A3 engines, was responsible for inaugurating Air France's transatlantic service between Paris and Detroit.
The early indications point to some type of weather event that caused the aircraft to send a ACARS message signaling an electrical circuit failure around the time it hit turbulence during its Atlantic crossing. Air France says that, as of now, no wreckage has been located.
At 22:33 Brasilia local time, says the ministry, the aircraft made final radio contact with the eastern Brazilian Cindacta-3 Atlantic area control centre at Recife, one of four en route centres that oversee Brazilian airspace.
The aircraft contacted Cindacta-3 at the INTOL waypoint, some 350nm (565km) from Natal, a city on the Brazilian coast. It indicated that it would enter Dakar airspace, Senegal, at the TASIL waypoint - about 663nm (1,228km) from Natal just under 50min later, at 23:20 Brasilia time.AF447 left Cindacta-3 radar surveillance from the island of Fernando de Noronha, at 22:48. At this time it was cruising at 35,000ft at 453kt, says the defence ministry, with indications that the flight was "normal".
The aircraft did not contact air traffic control around the time of the expected transit of TASIL.
The ministry says that Air France has informed Cindacta-3 that, about 54nm (100km) from TASIL the flight transmitted a technical message concerning loss of pressurisation and an electrical failure.
With far more questions than answers, everything falls into the category of speculation, though the accident - without definitive clues has the potential to reopen long standing debates about fly-by-wire controls, airliner lightning strike protection, ADIRUs and ETOPS even after millions of hours of safe in-service operation of these technologies.
Flight's Operations/Safety Editor David Learmount captured the event this way:
An event like this is the kind the aviation world hoped it would not see again, because it involves a world class carrier flying the latest generation of airliner, and it occurred en route, not during take-off or landing in difficult weather. It's a chilling reminder that nothing is impossible, however unthinkable.