Boeing 787 –  1st anniversary of FAA approval

By Tim Raetzloff | Sep 06, 2012

The Boeing 787 received FAA approval on Aug. 26, 2011. How has the program done in its first year of operation?

One remarkable item is that three of the major Boeing executives at the time of FAA approval are no longer in place.

The Boeing CFO is gone to early retirement. Ditto the head of Boeing Commercial Airlines.

The 787 program head was moved to another project within Boeing, out of the media glare. Only the CEO remains in place.

In 12 months Boeing has delivered 17 787s, a remarkably small number.

Before certification, Boeing anticipated delivering up to 25 787s before the end of 2011, and three a month or more in 2012.

That would have worked out to nearly 50 787s delivered in the first year. The actual number was about 1/3 of anticipation.

Nor has there been a big surge in sales as the 787 went into service. There have been notable sales (Air France) and notable cancellations (Quantas) and the net number of total sales is very close to where it was a year ago.

Of the original 4 models of the 787 that were to have been in service by 2012-2013, only the 787-8 exists.

The 787-3 has been cancelled, The 787-9 was to have begun deliveries in 2009. The first 787-9 doesn’t yet exist and anticipated entry into service has officially slipped to 2014.

I don’t think it is likely that the 787-9 will be in service in 2014. The first model of the –9 won’t begin construction for nearly a year, and then that model must be approved by FAA.

2014 is still just barely possible, but 2015 looks more likely. The 787-10 has been as good as cancelled.

Boeing now says that entry into service for the –10 will be around 2020, 8 years from now.

In early June, Boeing just rolled out the first “clean” 787. That was the first plane that would be complete from the factory. Except apparently it wasn’t. It is still being worked on at Paine Field.

For comparison, when a 737 or 747, or 767, or 777 rolls out of the factory, it will be delivered to an airline in a month or so, maybe less.

The number of unfinished 787s has increased in this year. There are more incomplete 787s, taking up more room, at Paine Field than there were a year ago.

The good news in all this is that Boeing has found it necessary to hire thousands of employees that it didn’t expect to need.

The 787 has proven to be good for the economy of Snohomish County at a time when we need it.

If the 787 program ever runs as it was supposed to run, many of those employees won’t be needed and will be out of work. Perverse as it sounds I suppose that all of Snohomish County should hope that the 787 program stays messed up.

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