Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Sept 2010 Contents 18 AsianAviation | SEPTEMBER 2010
The Farnborough show caught world's
attention as Boeing 787 ZA003 made its
international debut, staying for less than 60
The flight was used to generate flight-test
data and garner valuable publicity that offset
news of a possible seventh delivery delay (into
2011) that Boeing admitted days earlier. At
the show, Boeing declined to offer a likely
certification date for the troubled project.
Using the call sign 'BOE787', the 8-hour,
37-minute flight to Farnborough was crewed
by Boeing's assistant chief pilot Capt Mike
Bryan, technical test pilot Capt Ted Grady and
production test pilot Capt John Frischkorn.
Programme chief test pilot Capt Mike Carriker
says the flight tested navigation, radio, satellite,
and datalink systems as the 787 entered new
areas of polar and North Atlantic airspace.
Carriker confirms that the 787's lower,
6,000ft cabin altitude arises more by default
than design. Adopting a standard 8,000ft
cabin altitude would not result in a significantly
thinner (and therefore lighter) structure, since
the carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP)
composite fuselage is subject to a minimum
thickness for strength reasons.
He says the resultant, greater passenger
comfort becomes increasingly apparent on very
long flights and especially so during sectors of
12 hours or more.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief
Executive Officer Jim Albaugh confirms that
deliveries might slip once again by "a matter
of weeks" into early 2011, making the
programme at least 32 months late. He adds
that Boeing "probably" contracted too much
work to partners and then mismanaged that
"We lost control and, in future, I believe
we will outsource less," says Albaugh. In
addition to large third-party involvement, the
manufacturer has adopted new technologies
and a much greater proportion of CFRP in the
primary structure than ever before. The 787
was originally scheduled for delivery in May
Amid the latest scheduling uncertainty, Vice-
President and 787 Chief Project Engineer Mike
Sinnett declined to be drawn on Boeing's latest
estimates of when the design would receive
formal airworthiness approval from the US
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
If formally confirmed, a seventh delay would
disrupt plans to hand over the first 787 to All
Nippon Airways (ANA) before January.
Following the Farnborough show, there
were reports of further "issues" being
discovered that threatened to cast doubt even
on Albaugh's delay of "a matter of weeks".
Further hold-ups might arise following August's
Rolls-Royce Trent test-engine failure.
Sinnett says Boeing has been completing
performance testing and FAA demonstration:
"I can't say how much we've completed [but]
the hard bit, the bulk of the risk, is behind
us". Nevertheless, he cannot confirm that type
approval is still expected before 2011.
Sinnett acknowledges that a seventh delay
could be aggravated by more "pop-up"
issues, but claims there are "no killers" in the
remaining flight-test programme.
Meanwhile, Boeing is contemplating
improvements to its 777 widebody twin.
According to Albaugh "a lot of time" is being
spent talking to airlines on the subject. A
"very open" study dubbed 777X includes a
possible new engine and a composite wing,
as well as an all-new design.
The executive believes there could be
sufficient demand for 737 production to
be increased beyond the 35 a month rate
announced in June. Continued product
development could see Boeing re-engine
the 737 or introduce an all-new design.
The company is in discussions with General
Electric, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce and
expects to choose one engine before deciding
whether to offer a re-engined variant.
With the US manufacturer having lost
ground to Airbus, Albaugh has restructured
the manufacturer's Commercial Airplanes
division as it faces increased international
competition from new market entrants,
especially in the 100-seat sector. His
strategy includes a sharpened focus on
prime functions, long-term planning, tighter
management, and advisory groups that
involve the recall from retirement of several
former senior executives.
Farnborough Show Report
Boeing grabs spotlight with
787 display debut
Boeing Commercial Airplanes appears to
have reversed a long-proclaimed policy of
not holding orders back for announcement
at major shows. The US manufacturer,
which has often accused European
competitor Airbus of this practice, unveiled
many contracts at Farnborough, several
of which simply identified previously
Before the show, marketing Vice-
President Randy Tinseth sought to
demonstrate a great difference between
the two companies: Airbus had made
1,261 "air show 'announcements'" at Paris
and Farnborough during 2005-09 -- some
164 percent more than the 477 posted
by Boeing. However, net overall Boeing
orders, exceeded those of Airbus -- 4,263,
compared with 4,234 -- but only at two the
five events had it announced more 'orders'
than its rival.
Nevertheless, Boeing has carefully
worded the signing events staged at shows,
often acknowledging that the papers being
signed publicly are "certificates celebrating
the announcements", rather than actual
"There are 52 weeks in a year," says
Tinseth. "Net orders at the end of the year
are what count."
Boeing counts air-show 'orders'
Boeing used the flight to the Farnborough show to
generate more data for the 787 flight-test programme.
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