Update, Nov. 17, 4:30PM PST:
This article from Europe talks about efforts by Safran group to acquire Zodiac, which is a supplier on the Boeing 787. The article refers to possible interest (or lack of it, actually) by Hamilton Sundstrand as a potential bidder for Zodiac and that Zodiac is a competitor to Sundstrand.
As it happens, a company called ECE is subcontracted by Sundstrand on the P100 control panel on the 787, where the fire originated on ZA002. ECE is a subsidiary of–Zodiac.
Update, Nov. 17, 9:00 AM PST:
Heidi Wood, the aerospace analyst at Morgan Stanley, issued this brief note today:
What’s new: Yesterday, Boeing issued a press release update on the 787 highlighting the ongoing investigation into the test flight fire incident. While test plane ZA002 remains in Texas, 2 other 787s (ZA001 & ZA005) have returned to Seattle until a resolution can be determined.
What Does This Mean? Our read-between-the-lines interpretation of the press release:
(1)Boeing: “Boeing has established a plan to fly two aircraft back to Seattle.” “No decision has been reached on when flight testing will resume.”
Translation: The other planes (may) have an issue too. Which suggests 2 things: 1) it’s unlikely flight tests will resume shortly (days, a week), 2) bringing test planes back means it’s not de facto a quick fix. We estimate flight test resumption in late December, early 2011.
(2)Boeing: “The incident demonstrated many aspects of the safety and redundancy in the 787 design, which ensure that if events such as these occur, the airplane can continue safe flight and landing”.
Translation: The vagueness alerts us, as it sidesteps claiming the systems all worked. This tells us the multiple redundancies may not have performed as they should have, which dovetails with what our sources have been asserting. We’re impressed by the honest admission; we believe this is an FAA chief concern.
(3)Boeing: “We must complete the investigation and assess whether any design changes are necessary.”
Translation: Design changes are necessary. Questions arising about software, hardware redesign extend the horizon & could push first delivery to 2012.
(4)Boeing: “Until that time, BA cannot comment on the potential impact…on the…program schedule.”
Translation: Delay ahead. They just don’t know how extensive yet to set a new, credible target. When they do, they’ll officially announce the next delay.
Boeing just issued this update on the 787 program:
EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 16, 2010 – While the investigation into the incident onboard 787 Dreamliner ZA002 continues, Boeing has established a plan to fly two other aircraft, ZA001 and ZA005, back to Seattle from Rapid City, S.D., and Victorville, Calif. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has reviewed and approved the plans.
ZA001 was undergoing refueling in South Dakota when the incident on ZA002 occurred and the company decided to forgo additional flights. ZA005 was on remote deployment for testing in California.
The flights follow a series of inspections on the airplanes’ aft electronics bays. No testing will be performed on the flights.
The team investigating the incident in Laredo has developed a detailed understanding of the ZA002 incident, though more work remains to complete the investigation. In addition to the information already released about the incident, data show that:
* The total duration of the incident was less than 90 seconds.
* The fire lasted less than 30 seconds.
* The airplane concluded the event in a configuration that could have been sustained for the time required to return to an airport suitable for landing from any point in a typical 787 mission profile.
The team in Texas has completed inspection of ZA002 and has begun to prepare to install a new power panel and new insulation material. The team also is repairing minor structural damage that occurred during the event. This damage will be addressed with standard repair techniques in the airplane structural repair manual. The team is currently evaluating the timeline for completion of the repair work.
The incident on ZA002 demonstrated many aspects of the safety and redundancy in the 787 design, which ensure that if events such as these occur, the airplane can continue safe flight and landing.
No decision has been reached on when flight testing of the 787 will resume. Before that decision can be made, we must complete the investigation and assess whether any design changes are necessary. Until that time, Boeing cannot comment on the potential impact of this incident on the overall program schedule.
What we’re hearing:
As of yesterday, the exact cause of the fire still was undetermined. Until the cause is pinpointed, Boeing can’t determine what, if any, design changes may be required. Among the areas of investigation:
None of these areas of investigation, which are mostly likely not all-inclusive, is anything out of the ordinary for something of this nature.
As we previously noted, the investigative timeline alone is, in our view, most likely to cause an additional delay. Any redesign, particularly if it involves systems, should one be necessary, would add to a delay, perhaps substantially.
(We also expected new delays related to the cumulative effect of existing challenges, not the least of which continues to be the Alenia tail section. These will be masked by any delays coming from the fire.)
Also as we previously noted, there is a silver lining in all this. Boeing gets to validate theories for damage repair; the airplane flew successfully through the event (and, most importantly, no lives were lost nor were there serious injuries); and Boeing learns a great deal from this emergency. Certainly Boeing would not wish to learn through “live fire,” so-to-speak, but better now than during a passenger flight.