The two aircraft are AA-1 and ZA001.
The former is the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype completed in December 2006.
The latter is the first 787 prototype that was originally supposed to enter flight test about eight months later, yet remains in the late stages of final assembly and 15 months behind schedule.
Both aircraft must be spectacular disappointments so far for Lockheed Martin and Boeing, respectively.
Consider that the F-35 program's AA-1 required 65,000 more labor hours to build than planned, a roughly 35% overrun, according to a March report by the Government Accountability Office. Most of the delays were blamed on the wing and final assembly, both firmly controlled by Lockheed in the Team JSF industrial partnership.
But final assembly was the least of the worries for AA-1. Lockheed realized in 2004 that a major redesign was required to shed about 2,100 pounds from the airframe. Further changes in production methods, propulsion output and operational requirements were needed to offset another roughly 2,700 pounds. In all, AA-1 is almost 5,000 pounds too heavy, which equates to about one-eighth of the aircraft's maximum weight.
Nonetheless, Lockheed and the joint program office decided in 2004 that assembling AA-1 would still be worth the cost, even if the first prototype would become an instant anachronism. Subsequently, its limited value as a non-production representative flight test asset has been eroded by frequent groundings, including one that remains ongoing.
of ZA001 is only slightly less tragic. After all, Boeing at least expects this
perpetual resident of hangar 40-26 in
The full story of ZA001's tormented upbringing has been superbly told from the perspective of true insiders by my blogging colleague Jon Ostrower, master of the ever-fascinating Flightblogger site on FlightGlobal.com.
But, to summarize, what Boeing first portrayed as a slight delay caused by shortages of key parts and software mushroomed into a system-wide industrial breakdown. On top of that, Boeing discovered that the centre wing box would have to be redesigned. Continued production snafus, such as poor drilling by a single mechanic, have plagued Boeing's recovery timeline.
Both manufacturers have since moved on from their disaster-prone prototypes. The next roughly 20 F-35s and 787s are each in various stages of assembly, with Lockheed having completed its first four flight test aircraft and Boeing still working on completing ZA001.See also: