August 2012

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787 woes, 777 grows, 737 shows, and other stuff that doesn't rhyme

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My apologies for the lack of posting today, a lot has been going on and I've had my head down for the past several days wrapping up a piece for publication here sometime tomorrow. Now, a quick rundown of all the goings on in this Boeing heavy news day:

The Seattle Times lead its Sunday edition declaring the 787 program "is in even worse shape than it appears." The key points center on the mountain - 140,000 - outstanding jobs on production aircraft sitting on the Everett flight line. The biggest piece of news in the report of a recent meeting with Boeing and the FAA regarding the potential of earning early ETOPS certification (beyond 60 minutes) at the time of first delivery. The concern stems from the November 9 fire and the redundancy of the 787's electrical system.

Additionally, Boeing discovered cracks in the Trent 1000's airfoils and found following the August 2 uncontained failure in Derby, UK that one of the engine's shafts can, under certain conditions, turn too fast. Overall, the Times says the new delay, which will likely be announced this week, will stretch "at least three months, possibly six or more."

Working one Everett assembly bay over, the 777 program will increase its production rate to 8.3 airplanes per month by first quarter of 2013, which will be a new record output for the twin jet, allowing Boeing to build 100 of the mini-jumbos per year.

Also, Boeing is now looking at boosting 737 production as high as 50 per month. Coming changes to the line to accomodate 38 per month in 2013 allow the line to operate as high as 42 per month, so additional Renton and supply chain investment would be be needed. Meanwhile, an Al Jazeera report takes a deep look at quality control inside Boeing's 737 line, the company denies the allegations, but the piece does raise eyebrows.

The 787-10 is back on the table, says Boeing's head of strategy, as a way to challenge the A330-300, which has seen a major sales revival in recent years. The Airbus twin jet boasts a range of 5,850nm, so a further stretch of the 787-9 would likely eclipse the -300's performance.

Shifting a few more assembly bays down, RC001, the first 747-8I, has its GEnx-2B engines hanging on its pylons for the first time. The aircraft reportedy underwent pressurization tests for the first time this past weekend as well.

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