Boeing is set to begin installation of the side-of-body fix on ZA001 next week to return full static strength to the wing of the first 787, according to program sources.
Boeing declined to confirm the timing of the installation.
ZA001, Boeing's first 787 Dreamliner, has been in preparation for the installation inside Paint Hangar 45-04 since late July when the aircraft was taken off the flight line following low speed taxi tests completed earlier that month.
Based on previous estimates by Boeing that the total preparation and modification for each 787 will run about three months, ZA001 should emerge from the paint hangar in early October.
The static test airframe, ZY997, is expected to undergo installation concurrently as ZA001 is being modified, said Boeing in a late August program update. Following installation, ZY997 will be used for full scale validation of the side of body fix, clearing the way for 787's long-delayed maiden flight.
However, sources familiar with the installation process say that the fix itself will likely take about 30 days to complete, pushing the public debut of the modified ZA001 closer to the middle or later part of October.
Boeing's latest forecast targets 787 first flight by the close of 2009, with first delivery in the fourth quarter of 2010 to Japan's All Nippon Airways. This page previously reported that first flight was targeted for late November or early December, an assessment that remains in place today, according to those familiar with first flight planning.
The installation is expected to be especially challenging based on the difficult to access location inside the aircraft's wing boxes and center wing box.
Boeing halted preparations for the 787's maiden flight June 23rd after it was discovered that the upper stringers of the wing to body join were not strong enough to meet FAA certification requirements for static strength.
Inside the factory, Boeing has taken delivery of the last two structural sections for the 10th flying 787, ZA104. The fully stuffed forward fuselage, which arrived Tuesday evening from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita, Kansas, was the first pre-painted fuselage section shipped to Everett.
Later this afternoon, Boeing will complete a line move that will clear the way for ZA104 to be loaded into the final body join position at the back of Building 40-26, the 787 final assembly line.