There is a sense of relief that Boeing finally delivered the first 787 this week, after a 3 1/2 year delay and the most painful gestation period in Boeing Commercial Airplane history.
In addition to the actual rain storm on Monday that could not dampen the spirits of the moment, there were many others who nonetheless tried to rain on Boeing’s parade. They pointed out, correctly, that challenges remain for the ramp up in production and Boeing spent billions of dollars on the troubled program.
These and other points are legitimate issues. We chose to let Boeing have its moment in the sun (figuratively speaking, anyway, considering the lousy weather Monday).
Here are our thoughts:
FedEx is considering ordering the Airbus A330-200F or Boeing 767-300F. We learned at ISTAT that some at the company think the A330-200F is too much airplane in terms of range for US domestic service and would prefer the short-range A330-300F capable of carrying more volume. Although some months ago Jon Ostrower broke the story that FDX was talking with Boeing about the 767-400, we learned at ISTAT Boeing said “no.” It is focused on the KC-46A, 767-derived tanker and doesn’t want to take on a program that would divert resources from this effort.
Separately, we learned that Airbus and Boeing submitted their best and final offers last week and a decision–which might include a decision to do nothing–could come as early as this week. Concerns over the economy are spooking FDX, we are told, and there is a faction that favors acquiring more Boeing 757s for conversion and doubling up on frequency if capacity is needed while maintaining the flexibility to cut capacity in a downturn at a lower capital acquisition cost.
If Airbus were to win this order for the A330F, then the prospect of Airbus proceeding with the Mobile (AL) plant is back on the table, we are told.
Here’s more on Boeing’s first delivery of the 787 to launch customer All Nippon Airways.
The first picture illustrates the fancy, new windows in the 787. The manual shade is eliminated in the 787 and the window is dimmed by the passenger or the flight attendant. This photo, taken aboard an ANA 787 Sunday on the sunny ramp at Paine Field, is a dramatic representation of this feature. Photo by yours truly.
From Scott Fancher, head of the 787 program:
* We’ve developed a set of technologies that will be the backbone of development for the next 30 years.
* This is as big a leap forward as the 707 was.
* 787-9 design is very stable over last couple of years. The weight is down. We will start producing tools next year. We will start producing components next year. (Not structural components.)
* Charleston has been designed to be funbdamentally identical to Everett.
* When we have the data, we will put Charleston and Everett under one quality control system.
* Despite huge costs, we like the investment we made in the 787.
In a packed room of international media, Boeing announced Sunday that All Nippon Airways executed the contract to accept first delivery of the 787, three and one half years late.
Boeing has a day-long schedule for the media to get briefed on the program and the handover. Ceremonies continue tomorrow and the plane leaves Tuesday for Tokyo.
ANA will take four airplanes this year and 16 next year. By the end of ANA’s fiscal 2017 in March
2013an 2017 (oops-big thumbs on a small Blackberry keyboard) it will receive all 55 on order.
ANA’s airplanes are powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 1000, designed exclusively for the 787.
This is a milestone for Boeing but challenges remain.
Production ramp up will be a challenge and so will delivery rework. We’ll have further reports over the next two days.