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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Boeing Celebrates Delivery Of Long-Awaited 787

Boeing Celebrates Delivery Of Long-Awaited 787

Sep 27, 2011

In a rain-soaked delivery ceremony Monday outside the Boeing factory’s huge hangar doors, Boeing executives were apologetic about the 787 program’s tardiness but strongly asserted the value of the technology they pursued and the global manufacturing base they used to achieve it.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh declared the 787 “the biggest innovation in commercial aviation since the 707 was built more than 50 years ago.”
Pat Shanahan, head of all aircraft programs who was called in 2006 to right the troubled 787’s production and flight test efforts, responded to critics who charged that Boeing was pushing technology too far in seeking to build the industry’s first aircraft with single-piece composite fuselage barrels. “I’ve dreamed of this moment for a long time—actually for longer than I’d have wanted,” he said, drawing laughter from thousands of mechanics, engineers, quality control, systems and test employees gathered for the event. “As we all know, the journey here wasn’t easy or smooth, but great inventions never are.”
Proclaiming the 787 “the world’s first all-composite airplane,” Shanahan rattled off the technical feats Boeing achieved to overcome challenges, not the least of which were the aircaft's composite fuselage and wings. As he predicted, the company’s “global production system will produce at rates this industry has never seen,” —or the company—as one information technology specialist said in an aside.
Shanahan's reference is apt because the delivery ceremony hardly marks an end to Boeing’s 787 challenges. Chief among them is its ambitious goal of jumping from the current production rate of two aircraft per month to 10 by the end of 2013.
Boeing says the 787 does not rely on a greater number of suppliers than its last big program, the 777. But their role is far greater. Boeing sought major partner suppliers to tap into their expertise in structures, systems and components, and called on them to play a greater role in terms of manufacturing integration and testing. But the company reacted when tests showed the design needed to be beefed up, most notably when wing stringers required strengthening where they join the body and prompted a frustrating six-month delay just as flight testing was due to get under way. It finally started on a similarly rainy, gusty day on Dec. 15, 2009.
The 787 is the first airplane that All Nippon Airways has launched, and the carrier’s executives have enthusiastically embraced it despite waiting an additional 39 months beyond the initial May 2008 delivery date. “I cannot wait to see the day when the skies of the world are filled with 787s,” ANA President and CEO Shinichiro Ito declared.
The winged backdrops for the ceremony were test aircraft ZA002, the first in ANA’s livery and the 24th 787 produced; it will be the second delivered, in October. ANA will take delivery of the eighth aircraft produced, which was parked nearby for a party Monday evening. It is scheduled to lift off about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for the flight to Tokyo. It will start its career in a special charter service from Tokyo Haneda Airport on Oct. 26 and enter regular services on Nov. 1 from Haneda to Hiroshima and Okayama.

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