This morning Boeing outlined our revised schedule for the 787 Dreamliner. Given the progress over the summer addressing the “side-of-body” issue, we now expect a 787 first flight by the end of this year, with first deliveries starting in the 4th quarter of 2010.
We also announced today that we expect to achieve a Dreamliner production rate of 10 airplanes a month in late 2013.
The way you might characterize the new schedule and plan is, we’re cautiously confident - particularly because we’ve added some time to the flight-test program. But we’re fully aware - from what we’ve been through so far - that potential issues can and do crop up.
What I can say is that our team has made substantial progress addressing the side-of-body reinforcement issue.
While the solution is straightforward, implementing it on existing airplanes will be paced by the limited access in the side-of-body area. For instance, the space in the center wing box where the modification must be installed limits the number of people who can work there. But fortunately, we won’t face that problem farther down the road in production. In the future, the modification will be installed before airplanes reach final assembly.
Installing the modification is one of the things that must take place before we fly. We’ll also conduct static and fatigue testing to validate the durability of the modification, or solution.
Clearly there’s a lot to do. But as I mentioned, we’re making good progress and our team is eager to continue moving forward.
One additional note related to this announcement. We also said today that we’ve concluded that the initial flight test 787s have no commercial market value after development. As we said in our news release, that’s because of the inordinate amount of rework and modifications those airplanes have had. As a result, Boeing will take a $2.5 billion non-cash charge against third-quarter results to reclassify costs previously recorded for those airplanes.
So, to pose the same question I asked in the last post, where do we stand with the Dreamliner? As our CEO, Jim McNerney, said this morning, we continue to believe that the 787 will be a game changer for our customers.
Our challenge remains what it has been since day one: execute the program and get the Dreamliner to our customers, and the flying public, as soon as we can.