Update, Sept. 2: Boeing retracts its information to Buckingham.
Buckingham just put out a follow-up note to its one issued yesterday, cited below. Interesting to say the least:
BA is using 2, not 4 additional aircraft for 787 certification
Yesterday we reported that BA is using 10 aircraft in the certification process vs. 6 originally to prevent further 787 delays. Today, BA contacted us to clarify their initial statement calling for 4 additional aircraft in the 787 certification program. BA now states that only 2 additional 787 aircraft will be used in certification: aircraft #9 for ETOPS and another unspecified 787 for ground tests. We believed that first delivery could slip into 2Q from 1Q given the need for 10 aircraft in flight test. Eight aircraft in flight test improves our outlook and lowers the risk of another 787 delay. (Emphasis is Buckingham’s.)
Update, 3:30PM PDT:
Boeing issued this statement:
There will be limited testing on two additional airplanes for a total of eight airplanes (not four for a total of 10). The additional testing is driven by the requirement that some of the testing be done on airplanes in production configuration as opposed to flight test configuration. One airplane will do some ground testing. The other will do some flight testing.
We also received this statement from Boeing:
We will be doing testing on two airplanes in addition to the dedicated flight test fleet. Some of the later tests require airplanes that are in production configuration. This has always been part of the baseline plan.
Although Boeing says this was “always part of the base plan,” Buckingham’s report was the first time we’ve heard of more than six airplanes (whether it’s eight or 10) being involved in the test program. Analyst and media presentations never mentioned this, that we are aware of. In fact, those who followed the 787 program will well remember that Boeing was very clear: they felt they could do the flight testing in eight months (a timeline that drew universal skepticism on Wall Street) because there would be six airplanes doing the testing, an increase from the 777 test program.
What we now understand from our sourcing is that more than six airplanes were part of the contingency plans in case things went south.
Update, 1:15pm PDT: Guy Norris of Aviation Week has this report on why the Trent 1000 failed.
Boeing will use 10 787s to complete certification, a Wall Street aerospace analyst reported today in a research note, the first time this has been revealed.
Richard Safran of Buckingham Research writes:
Originally, BA intended to use six 787 test aircraft for certification. BA CEO Jim McNerney previously spoke about contingency plans to maintain the 787 flight test schedule. One plan was to shift ETOPS (Extended Twin-engine Over-ocean Performance Specification) testing from the original 6 flight test aircraft to 787 #7-10. In order to prevent further delays to the 787 schedule, BA is now using 10 aircraft in the certification process. The engine failure of 787 #9 in ground test delayed certification (and first delivery) because RR did not have a replacement. Since BA is now relying on 10 aircraft for certification and given the difficulty getting 787 #6 into the test program (now slated for September), we think it’s possible first delivery of the 787 could slip beyond 1Q11 to 2Q11.
Separately. we inquired of Boeing about some other aspects of the engine issue (Rolls-Royce, as is typical, did not respond for comment).
We asked Boeing why, after 2 1/2 years of delays, there were more engines available that could be used to put on the All Nippon Airways plane to maintain first delivery in January (December already having been largely written off by analysts)–especially considering that Boeing planned to have 30 airplanes ready for delivery by the time certification was achieved. Boeing responded that engines are delivered “just in time,” a common supply chain method to control inventory costs.
Indeed, of the 12 787s assembled but parked on the ramp at Everett (WA)’s Paine Field, where the 787 is assembled, none has engines.
Why was the engine that had the uncontained failure at Rolls so critical to the program and ANA’s delivery?
Boeing said that two engines are required for ETOPS and “function and reliability” (F&R) testing and are uniquely instrumented.
“Some of this testing will occur on airplanes later in the production sequence vs the primary flight test airplanes,” Boeing told us. “This is not out of the norm for new airplane programs.”
Unaware of the plan to use 10 airplanes when we asked our questions, we do not have information about the tasks planned for the extra four aircraft.