The twoaircraft are AA-1 and ZA001.
The formeris the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter prototype completed in December 2006.
The latteris the first 787 prototype that was originally supposed to enter flight test abouteight months later, yet remains in the late stages of final assembly and 15months behind schedule.
Bothaircraft must be spectacular disappointments so far for Lockheed Martin andBoeing, respectively.
Considerthat the F-35 program’s AA-1 required 65,000 more labor hours to build thanplanned, a roughly 35% overrun, according to a March report by the Government AccountabilityOffice. Most of the delays were blamed on the wing and final assembly, both firmlycontrolled by Lockheed in the Team JSF industrial partnership.
But finalassembly was the least of the worries for AA-1. Lockheed realized in 2004 that amajor redesign was required to shed about 2,100 pounds from the airframe. Furtherchanges in production methods, propulsion output and operational requirements wereneeded to offset another roughly 2,700 pounds. In all, AA-1 is almost 5,000pounds too heavy, which equates to about one-eighth of the aircraft’s maximumweight.
Nonetheless,Lockheed and the joint program office decided in 2004 that assembling AA-1 wouldstill be worth the cost, even if the first prototype would become an instant anachronism.Subsequently, its limited value as a non-production representative flight testasset has been eroded by frequent groundings, including one that remainsongoing.
The storyof ZA001 is only slightly less tragic. After all, Boeing at least expects thisperpetual resident of hangar 40-26 in
The fullstory of ZA001′s tormented upbringing has been superbly told from theperspective of true insiders by my blogging colleague Jon Ostrower, master ofthe ever-fascinating Flightblogger site on FlightGlobal.com.
But, tosummarize, what Boeing first portrayed as a slight delay caused by shortages ofkey parts and software mushroomed into a system-wide industrial breakdown. Ontop of that, Boeing discovered that the centre wing box would have to beredesigned. Continued production snafus, such as poor drilling by a single mechanic,have plagued Boeing’s recovery timeline.
Both manufacturershave since moved on from their disaster-prone prototypes. The next roughly 20F-35s and 787s are each in various stages of assembly, with Lockheed havingcompleted its first four flight test aircraft and Boeing still working oncompleting ZA001.