One year ago, the Boeing 787 received the Type Certificate (August/2011) and the launch customer Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) took delivery of its first 787 (September/2011). After 3 years of agonizing delays and billions of dollars in cost. But things are changing and the program appears to be on an upward trajectory at last. Here it is a brief summary of the current status of the 787 program and next challenges.
Smooth Entry Into Service:
-relatively smooth entry into service (EIS)
-positive passengers response
-better-than-expected dispatch reliability: 98%
-better-than-expected fuel burn performance.( 21% fuel burn improvement over the 767 on long-haul flights)
While significant challenges still remain:
-on the production ramp-up to 10 units per month by the end of 2013
-an early-2014 787-9 entry into service (EIS)
-achieving the 2012 year-end 35-42 delivery targets
-launch of the 787-10.
Substantial improvement in production process. Maturity.
The first clean production aircraft LN66 completing final assembly and rolling out to the flight line without undergoing post-production rework in the Everett Modification Centre (EMC) on June.
“Condition of assembly and out-of-sequence work within the 787 production system has improved significantly, and airplanes are now flowing off out of final assembly in Everett without a stop in our modification centre,” Boeing chairman, president and chief executive Jim McNerney said.
The reduction in the number of travelled work is remarkable, as the mid-fuselage section of LN67 only has 5 incomplete tasks out of a total of 4,000 and that LN46, the first 787 built in Charleston, South Carolina earmarked for Air India, has less than 100 incomplete tasks
Standardizing the 787 production process is crucial in reducing costs, improving efficiency of the production system as well as meeting the target of ramping up the 787 production rate from 3.5 per month to 5 per month by the end of this year and to 10 per month by the end of 2013.
“We see a nice improvement in learning curve with estimated intangible 787 unit costs declining to US$118M in Q2 (from US$133M in Q1).” Credit Suisse said in the research note.
The US$236 million cash unit cost at the end of 2012 second-quarter is a staggering 41% reduction from the first 787 being delivered.
“We believe the large structural suppliers are now roughly in line with Boeing’s current final assembly rate at 3.5/month.” UBS said in its August Dreamlifter monthly tracker.
With the progress demonstrated so far and the increased confidence in its program execution, all eyes are now turning to this fall’s production rate increase to 5 aircraft per month as an early barometer to the feasibility in achieving an ambitious production ramp-up to 10 per month by the end of 2013, which remains challenging at best and has a razor-thin margin of error.
“The three Japanese suppliers, Kawasaki (KHI), Mitsubishi (MHI) and Fuji (FHI) are all on schedule for all shipsets in the production process, Spirit is on schedule and Alenia, surprisingly to us, also appears in good shape (a few minor issues),” Bernstein added
Based on the article “Boeing 787 Dreamliner programme starts to soar” published in Aspire Aviation