Boeing firm on first 787-9s for Air NZ in mid 2014
Boeing has either broken some good news about the 787-9 version of the Dreamliner in its latest statement about the plastic airliner, or talked itself into an even deeper hole.
It’s always a bad look when airlines and airliner makers contradict each other over the progress being made for new designs, which is what Boeing and American Airlines did again today over the 787-9 version of the Dreamliner.
But for the record, Boeing said that the 787-9 is now firm for first deliveries in the second half of 2014, but has also indicated earlier that this is intended to be much closer to sometime in July of that year rather than 31 December 2014, after making its first flight in the second half of 2013.
The launch customer for the -9 version is Air New Zealand, which originally expected them in late 2010.
For a first flight for the stretched version of the Dreamliner to occur in less than nine months from now means that Boeing must have completed all the design work and production drawings and specifications for the -9, with the components well advanced in production.
If this is true, and not another agonising episode of spin doctors versus engineering reality, then Boeing should be releasing images and statements verifying the physical progress it has made in turning the -9 into a plastic airliner any day soon.
First flight by July 2013, for argument’s sake, means that at the latest the second version of the 787 family can be expected to roll out of its final assembly plant with almost every single item in the structure and systems for the jet installed and working about the middle of next May.
Whatever the actual schedule, Boeing should by now, in keeping with today’s assurances, have production instructions for the -9 ready down to the last fastener or wiring installation.
Some physical evidence of the progress inferred in today’s news reports is no doubt anticipated within days, if not weeks, in Auckland. Air New Zealand has been waiting an incredibly long time for this, and given the seriousness of the Boeing statement to the US market today, that wait must at last be nearly over.