August 2012

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News Notes: 747-8F F&R; underway, CSeries' Swedish order, G650 testing resumes, Air India's half-billion dollar 787 compensation

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Boeing 747-8F N6009F RC523

SEATTLE -- I've been pretty well trapped underground writing for our Paris Air Show issue which comes out in two weeks, but I've finally finished 6,100 words worth of features looking at Boeing's coming production ramp up, 787 and 747-8 flight test. As you've rightly noticed, they're has been a lack of content here on the blog as my attention has been turned toward print, but I'm back in the saddle again having woken up from my typing-induced haze in the Pacific Northwest for two jam-packed days of briefings here with Boeing. There won't be any direct news from the briefings immediately as the contents are under embargo for Paris later in the month.

That being said, there are several notable important news notes that have unfolded over the past few days.

Boeing begins 747-8F F&R testing
Boeing kicked off 747-8F system functionality and reliability (F&R) testing today with RC523 covering 16 US states over 10 hours Wednesday, say program sources. Boeing said last week it expected the F&R testing to get underway in June once the Federal Aviation Administration has signed off on the Honeywell flight management system software. The state of functionality of that software is currently unknown, as it is unclear what the final resolution was and if the aircraft will have full functionality at the time of first delivery.

Swedish CSeries Order
CSeries broke its order dryspell today when Sweeden's Braathens Leasing ordered 5 CS100s and 5 CS300s for Malmo Aviation. While ten aircraft is hardly an order that has the potential to change the competitive landscape, it is forward commercial momentum heading toward the Paris Air Show, which should see more orders for the type materialize. This is the first order for the new jet since February 2010, when Republic Airways purchased up to 80 CS300s.

G650 returns to the sky
The Gulfstream resumed its G650 flight test campaign on May 28, with S/N 6001 (N650GA) moving ahead with plans to certify the aircraft by the close of this year. The US business jet airframer confirmed the aircraft is now being operated with a temporary increase in the aircraft's minimum speed and a new limit to the maximum angle of attack on take-off, after the company cautioned the G650's minimum speed might increase as a result of the April 2 accident in Roswell, New Mexico.

Leap-X nets Virgin America, ILFC
A report from Bloomberg News indicates that CFM is readying to announce its first Leap-X customers for the A320neo. The 30 Virgin America A320neos that gave the program its first firm order in January will be powered by the new Leap-X engine. Additionally, ILFC will power the balance of its 100 aircraft A320neo order with the Leap-X, adding another 40 airframe to CFM's column.

Air India's half-billion dollar 787 compensation
The Economic Times reports that Air India has been offered $500 million to compensate Air India for the late delivery of 27 787 Dreamliners. A quick look at the numbers translates the  massive compensation deal means that $18.5 million in revenue is shaved from the 27 aircraft. Or another way to look at it, Boeing has to remove an additional $1 million in cost from the first 500 787s to cancel out the effect of the deal. Keep in mind, more than 300 early 787 airframes - of which Air India's are included - were sold for an average of $76 million to begin with.

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