12 November 2010

Boeing 787 - Delays - Not Whether But How Much

Boeing's 787 fire may have a lot of repercussions for those long suffering customers who have been waiting patiently for the product.

Many have become very frustrated with the delays and the level of compensation offered by Boeing for these delays.

First lets have a look at the fire. There were a lot of people on that plane according to a Boeing spokesman 42. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2013400297_boeing11.html. The actual fire cause has not been fully explained but where it occurred would be worrying as there are really only two of these major panels. P100 (where the fire occurred and P200 on the other side of the aircraft.

The reports of who was on the plane varied - initially it was 30 but then corrected to 42. What the heck 42 people were doing on a test flight when I am not sure if there are even 42 seats on ZA002 makes you wonder. So allow me to speculate. if Boeing was conducting commercial familiarization tests it would not be doing it with ZA002. It would be with one of the newer snazzier models with the interiors. So clearly this has to be related to testing and most likely certification. Boeing is shooting for the 3 certifications all at the same time - JAA (European) FAA and Japanese for the first two customers JAL and ANA. So if this was the case then it is likely that there were some FAA bods on the flight in addition to the Boeing personnel.

Oops nothing like having a fire during a certification of the aircraft with the inspectors on the aircraft. Remember I did say this was speculation.

Now about those delays. Already we have reports of same airlines waiting 4 years for their planes. Kenya Airways was recently quoted saying that was the delay for them. This has proved to be quite a bonus for the next nearest plane in class - the A330. And with the delays continuing look for more airlines to settle for an interim solution. How long will the delay be? I think we have all lost count - I think this will be delay number 8 (officially?)

This delays - in my humble opinion means that there will be no revenue flights until mid 2011 at the earliest - one could easily speculate that there will be two levels of delay. One a review of the electrics (think the A380 wiring problem but in spades) and the other the certification process. The ramp up will be slower and cautious. I still believe that Boeing will trash quite a few of the early aircraft because the specs have changed so many times. The plastic plane is not quite so easily modified as the old Aluminum ones.

So Boeing will need to take some reflection and see what it can do to address these issues. For compensation the figure of $4.5 Million has been bandied about. That is according to reports about Aeroflot seeking 100 million for the delays to its 22 plane fleet order. http://en.rian.ru/business/20101027/161104023.html.

All in all not a good time to be Boeing and its stock price is reflecting this. Boeing needs to get its house in order. The last 3 program re-orgs still have not smoothed things out. Perhaps another one is on the way? It seems almost nostalgic to discuss such mundane things as fasteners. Electrics are a heck of a lot more complex. No one is forgetting the electrical fire that downed the Swiss MD11.

For long term - this also implies that Boeing will be facing more competition from the A350XWB. Rolls and Boeing might both be in the dog house for a while. Those with orders for both might be getting a bit nervous right about now.



Professor Sabena said...

So it would appear that the Professor had some insight... the pilot of ZA002 has now been confirmed as someone from the FAA. Right seat occupant was a Boeing pilot but the guy in the LH side was a Fed.


Andrew said...

Tag-along on test flights is a senior executive perk at Boeing.

Not a certification flight.