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Sat, Feb 16, 2008

Final Assembly Begins On Second 787 Flight Test Aircraft

First Plane Slated To Fly In Coming Months

Even as final checks are underway to ready the first airplane for its maiden flight, Boeing announced Friday that final assembly has begun on the second 787 Dreamliner flight-test airplane.

Loaded snugly into the first position of the 787 production system, workers in the Everett, WA-based factory can now begin joining together the fuselage sections and wings. All major joins take place in this position.

While this is the second of six flight-test airplanes, this Dreamliner is actually the fourth on the production line. It follows the two airplanes that will be used for static and fatigue testing.

Perhaps most important of all, Boeing notes vendors have improved the quality of the parts shipped to Everett for assembly -- a major sticking point on the first plane, and a large reason why that aircraft still hasn't taken to the air.

"We've received significantly less 'traveled work' on this airplane," said Steve Westby, vice president of 787 Final Assembly and Change Incorporation. "The degree of completeness of sections at the partners is significantly better than Airplane #1. Condition of assembly is much better and we will see continued improvements on the condition of each assembly shipped. All this helps to bring us back into alignment with the original design of our production system."

Boeing adds production is going well on subsequent airplanes, too, with 21 airplanes currently in various stages of production. This number includes the static and fatigue airplanes, which will not be delivered to customers.

Since its launch in April 2004, the 787 Dreamliner has amassed 857 firm orders valued at $144 billion from 56 airlines. The first 787 is slated to take flight by the end of June... close to one year after the aircraft was rolled out.



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