The Boeing Company says it now expects the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner to take place by the end of 2009 and the first delivery of a 787 to a customer (All Nippon Airways) to occur in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The new schedule reflects Boeing’s previously announced need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft, along with the addition of several weeks of schedule margin to reduce flight test and certification risk.
Boeing projects achieving a production rate of 10 aircraft per month in late 2013, the same period when ― according to Flightglobal ― the first delivery of the Boeing 787-9 version of the aircraft will take place, to Air New Zealand.
“This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787’s game-changing capability in the hands of our customers,” says Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chairman, president and CEO. “The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete, and the team is preparing airplanes for modification and testing.”
Based on the revised schedule and other revised assumptions, Boeing has determined that “the 787 program is not in a forward-loss position” ― i.e., that the program won’t be loss-making going forward.
However, separate from this assessment, Boeing has decided that the first three flight-test aircraft are too different from eventual production-standard 787s ever to be sold to airline customers.
The company says it has concluded that the initial flight-test aircraft have no commercial market value beyond the 787 program development effort, due to what Boeing says is an “inordinate amount of rework and unique and extensive modifications made to those aircraft”.
As a result, Boeing is reclassifying the costs previously recorded for the first three flight-test 787s from program inventory (that is, production aircraft to be sold to customers) to research and development expense. This will result in an estimated non-cash charge of $2.5 billion pre-tax, or $2.21 per share, against Boeing’s third-quarter results. The company says this charge will have no impact on its cash outlook going forward.
Boeing says 787 design staff working on the side-of-body reinforcement have completed initial testing and are finalizing the design details of new fittings that they expect to ensure the joint has full structural integrity.
The company will repeat the static test procedure that uncovered the side-of-body integrity issue and analyze the results fully conducting the first flight of the 787.
Fatigue testing also will be performed on stringer components to validate the long-term durability of the modification.
Boeing says its has prepared the first 787 test aircraft and the static test airframe for the new fittings. Installation is expected to begin within the next few weeks.