Not unexpectedly, given the recent test incident concerning the Trent 1000 engine, Boeing tonight (Aug 26) confirmed that first 787 deliveries to launch customer All Nippon Airways will now take place in the middle of the first quarter 2011, rather than by the end of this year as had been originally planned.
Boeing, which hinted at coming delays as far back as the Farnborough show, was already fighting to stay on its tight test schedule before the early August uncontained failure of the engine. The threat of additional delays was already on the cards because of issues related to the horizontal stabilizer, as well as hold ups related to instrumentation being installed for the loads survey on ZA004. (Boeing’s statement on the latest 787 delay)The Boeing (NYSE: BA) Company said today that it now expects delivery of the first 787 in the middle of the first quarter 2011.The delivery date revision follows an assessment of the availability of an engine needed for the final phases of flight test this fall.While Boeing works closely with Rolls-Royce to expedite engine availability, flight testing across the test fleet continues as planned.Boeing said last month that the cumulative impact of a series of issues, including supplier workmanship issues related to the horizontal stabilizer and instrumentation delays, could push first delivery of the 787 a few weeks into 2011. The delay in engine availability has extended that estimate to mid-first quarter 2011.The schedule revision will not affect the company's financial guidance.
What still remains unclear is what parts of the test and certification program did the engine failure impact. Rolls only acknowledged the problem occurred on a Package A configuration engine, and that the trouble spot was the intermediate pressure turbine (IPT). As this was one of the main areas of focus for the follow-on Package B engine, it might be reasonable to assume that the test failure was linked to some evaluation of this key improvement.
For the first time Boeing is giving us more of a clue when it says “..the delivery date revision follows an assessment of the availability of an engine needed for the final phases of flight test this fall.” Could this be referring to the first set of improved Package B engines, due to be fitted to the fourth test aircraft ZA004? The engines were originally due to be installed several months after the completion of the flight loads survey. The survey, which was itself delayed by instrumentation issues, is currently underway at Victorville, Calif.
Now that Boeing has acknowledged an inevitable slip in delivery to around February, surely it is time for Rolls-Royce to come up with a clearer picture of what happened, and where it goes from here?