21 November 2010

Brace Yourselves. 787 Delay #7 - 2012?

I was joking the other week with a colleague who spends way more time sniffing Kerosene than I do. In fact it was prior to the Electrical Panel Fire in Laredo. My friend who follows these sort of things said 2012 before Boeing starts delivering 787s.

I said - "you mean full bore production deliveries" - he replied "No. Deliveries period."

Seems like he was being a bit prescient.

Latest news coming from the Oracle of Aviation, Air Lease Corp. founder and CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy, was that the delay is going to be 9 months. Others are now whispering even more - last week, Morgan Stanley aviation analyst Heidi Wood forecast that Boeing would not be able to deliver the 787s until 2012 in a worst-case scenario, as flight testing won’t resume until early next year. Wood’s base case assumption is second half 2011. So far the aircraft has been out of testing for several weeks. Surely 2 months delay shouldn't translate into 9 months or possibly even a year - can it?

Well there are several factors at work here. The troubles at Rolls Royce are not the least of them. The many design changes on the aircraft as a result of Boeing's unfamiliarity with the multi-source concept. Let's face it the 787 is no Smart Car. It a exponentially more complex.

So the delivery date answer is now anyone's guess. Clearly the production schedule cannot survive in any shape or form. Boeing is going to (read has no choice)have to modify it and has no choice but to lower the ramp of the production schedule. It will need to tune the production process until everything is set to be stable. I think that this confirms my earlier assumption that the earlier aircraft are not going to be representative of the production models. Difficulties abound for the suppliers. The Japanese must be kicking themselves over become risk partners. They have been ready for more than 2 years. And even now Boeing may have them make modifications and save weight that cannot be gathered from other parts of the aircraft.

What would have happened if they had gone ahead with the Sonic Cruiser?

So now perhaps things don't look so bad for Airbus. This further delay is going to force more A330s to be ordered. Even the now delayed a little bit A350 will end up being only 2 years behind the 787 service entry date. For people wanting new aircraft that means that available slots on either aircraft are about the same. So its a fair fight between the two now.

This is really rather sad. I wonder if heads will roll at Boeing again?


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