22 March 2008

Boeing's Troubles with 787 Continue. This time its the Wing Box

This is one of those Oh Shit moments.

Boeing’s efforts to save weight on the 787 has resulted in a weakened central wing box, this is the core bit of the aircraft which effectively anchors the whole airplane.

First revealed in Public by ILFC’s Chairman Steven F. Udvar-Hazy
At the JPMorganChase Transportation Conference this week in his keynote speech and reported by Jon Osterow in the FlightBlogger this week the issue of a weakened wing box on the 787 was revealed. Most certainly this means a significant delay. Don’t believe that for a minute this is not a serious issue. It is and rightly Boeing is doing a lot to address it.

The impact will be significant on the production line with delays again not just in the first flight but also in the delivery schedule. Effectively we are now looking at a 2 year delay for Boeing to start deliveries from the pronouncements even last year at roll out day 7-8-07. For the early aircraft and the subsequent production line the impact on weight will be significant. Boeing’s hopes of a lighter 787 within spec have now been dashed. As with all aircraft this will have an effect either in range, lifting capacity or both. Having to strengthen the wing box means that the first aircraft off the line will be range constrained due to less fuel capacity. This is probably only a few percentage points but in the fine tuning of the aircraft it is something to watch. Hazy and many other purchasers are now setting their bean counters to calculate how much compensation is coming their way.

Sadly the work on the wing box was one of the brighter spots in the program. The Japanese have been scrupulously working to achieve all the goals that Boeing set them. I say again Boeing. PLEASE take the time to identify the issues and work them through. Boeing’s retreat into silence is a marked turnaround from their original open and transparent dialogue with the marketplace. Suggestion. Start holding regular briefings so people can know what is going on. Learn to manage not stifle the news.



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