Odds and Ends: FAA 787 approval could come next week; Ode to an engineer

FAA 787 approval could come next week: Reuters reports that the Federal Aviation Administration could provide a key approval next week that will open the way to the final documentation required to lift the grounding of the Boeing 787. Meantime, and unrelated to the woes of the 787, the FAA has certified the latest performance improvement package for the 787’s GEnx engines.

Ode to a Boeing engineer: Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times has this tribute to a talented Boeing engineer. Then a day later this story of Ken Holtby, another key Boeing engineer, appeared.

11 Comments on “Odds and Ends: FAA 787 approval could come next week; Ode to an engineer

  1. Uresh Sheth at All Things 787 thinks that April 24th will be the magic day. He also is predicting Boeing will make their big announcement about this in Addis Ababa. It appears there is a growing Boeing contingent assembling there that is heavy in the bigwig department.

    A supporting piece of evidence that approval (at least as far as Boeing believes) will come next week is the increased 787 activity on the Everett flight line. Apparently there is a functional check flight on an ANA 787 scheduled for today. More surprising to me, however, is the B1 flight of a China Southern 787, scheduled for today as well.

    I was under the impression that there were still holdups with the 787 certification process in China. That is why the Chinese frames were put temporarily into storage late last year. Have these “issues” been cleared, and is the 787-8 certified in China?

    • I would personally take predictions on All Things 787 with a sizable chunk of NaCl. It’s definitely a 787 fan site, rather than an impartial news source. Uresh has been consistently optimistic on both 787 delivery schedules, and now on its prospects to return to service (in mid-March he projected that the 50 in-service 787s would all be retrofitted and back flying by the end of April).

    • While he is not impartial, I disagree with your characterization of his site. I’ve followed his blog for over a year now, and there have been many, many instances where he exhibited a healthy skepticism of Boeing’s (and media’s) claims.

      As for when the 787 will return to service, here are some of Uresh’s predictions:

      Friday, Feb 22 prediction: “Boeing will be able to return the aircraft to revenue flights but it will not be until late April to mid May before that happens”

      Wednesday, Feb 27 prediction: “I am willing to venture that the grounding will last through May with final re-certification of the lithium ion batteries coming around that time and resumption of revenue flight in June”

      Tuesday, Mar 12 prediction: “Assuming that the FAA is happy with the testing and the results, I can see revenue flights starting again in about 2 months time. That would be around the middle of May”

      Friday, Mar 15 prediction: “If Boeing can meet the schedule it has laid out to the FAA and get the testing done in weeks, I would expect the FA to take it’s time in analyzing the data and perhaps ordering further tests. The 50 787s may not resume passenger flights for another 4 to 6 weeks (that includes the retrofit time).” That puts resumption of passenger flights between April 12 and April 26, admittedly his earliest prediction, but based on what Boeing said.

      Monday, Mar 25 prediction: “It would probably take Boeing at least 2 months to return all the 50 787s to flight once FAA approval (as well as approval of the other global aviation authorities)”

      Sunday Apr 7 prediction: “Assuming that Boeing has (according to reports in the media) 8 teams ready to implement the fix along with the associated hardware at the ready, it will take Boeing about 6 weeks to return all 50 delivered 787s to service. If the approval is given by middle of April then it is reasonable to assume that the 50 787s that are grounded can resume regular revenue service by early June depending on the individual airline’s readiness to do so.”

      Wednesday, Apr 10: ” I don’t see the FAA decision coming down before April 15th at the earliest. However It is entirely possible for Qatar to have their 787s back in the air by mid May. Again this is all dependent on when the FAA will issue their decision.”

      Overall not bad predictions, for a fan at least.

  2. Do we know how many B-787s should have been delivered between the Jan. grounding and now? How many of those airplanes are still ready to be delivered within a week or so of being put back into the air.

    • Boeing has produced 15 787’s over the course of the 3 month grounding based on a rate of 5/month coming out the factory door. I would have expected them to deliver more, since they are still in the process of reworking older frames, perhaps 16 or 17. This is just a guess.

      They have 5 frames that have already flown various numbers of pre-delivery test flights before the grounding. If I had to guess, these would be the candidates most likely to be delivered first after being retrofitted. However, a China Southern frame is scheduled today for its first flight ever, which means it has to have been modified already. So, who knows what order Boeing is going to follow.

      • They’ll surely need to retrofit the 50 previously-delivered aircraft first, which might take a month or two, to get them back into the air. So there might be another month or two of production backlog yet before they can get started on retrofitting the frames in the backlog and delivering new aircraft.

      • Publicly, Boeing is stating they will focus on the grounded 787’s in service first. However, they need to do more than stop the bleeding, they need some positive cash flow, which means deliveries. Don’t be surprised if 787’s are delivered well before all of the in service fleet is retrofitted.

      • Boeing has already installed the battery fix on at least 3 deliverable frames; LN-86 for LOT, LN-34 for China Southern, and LN-83 for ANA. Either the China Southern or the ANA frame flew today, although both were scheduled to go up.

        If the fix is already installed it makes perfect sense to deliver once the FAA gives approval.

  3. I hope to see the 787 back in the air. Too many negative comments knocking Boeing and its redesigned battery system. Boeing with a long history of designing and building a large number of airliners over many decades has always did what was necessary to safely keep airliners flying. Let Boeing do its research and upgrade the battery package and then we can see the results of their engineering teams final package.

    • A slight change in subject, if I may. As I understand it, the newly delivered Lion Air B-737-800 that ditched short of the runway in Bali this week had the new 16G seats installed. That may have been a big factor in no fatalities from this accident.

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