The Boeing 787 arrived today at the Farnborough Air Show, a day before the event actually begins.
The plane, #3–the so-called “interior airplane” equipped with an interior that is more suitable for testing operations than representative of the actual 787 customer interior–arrived at 9 am UK time, after a 9 hour flight from Paine Field at Everett (WA). At least 100 people lined Farnborough Road adjacent the airport with binoculars and telephoto cameras to watch the landing.
On hand were Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh, program chief Scott Fancher, head of all programs Pat Shanahan and at least three US Senators: Tom Harkin of Iowa, Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Graham, of course, represents the state where Boeing now has $1bn in facilities and where the second assembly line for the 787 is being constructed.
Pilot Mike Bryan, who captained the airplane, said the flight was smooth and ready for passenger operations. A few tests were conducted en route.
It should be noted that this particular test airplane, along with 1 and 2, will not be sold to anyone. So many production problems arose in assembling these first three of six test airplanes that Boeing can’t sell them and has taken a $2bn write off. But Bryan’s overarching point of the plane being ready to carry passengers is indicative of the program’s progress.
CEO McNerney acknowledged in an impromptu press conference that delivery of the first 787 to launch customer All Nippon Airways could slip into the new year because of “paperwork.” The possible delay was announced last Thursday by Fancher.
McNerney nonetheless was clearly bursting with pride at the international debut. Fancher remarked that this is the first time since 1994 Boeing has brought a new airplane model to Farnborough.
“This makes us proud,” Fancher said.