AMERICA: Boeing 787 VP upbeat on progress

The Boeing Company is making steady progress on getting the 787 Dreamliner global production system up and running, according to Pat Shanahan,vice president and general manager ofthe 787 programme. Speaking at the recent Farnborough Airshow, Shanahan said that the dedicated global partner network is one of the many aspects of the 787 that are a […]


The Boeing Company is making steady progress on getting the 787 Dreamliner global production system up and running, according to Pat Shanahan,vice president and general manager ofthe 787 programme.

Speaking at the recent Farnborough Airshow, Shanahan said that the dedicated global partner network is one of the many aspects of the 787 that are a major leap forward for the programme.

“Often, when people think of the 787 what immediately comes to mind is a more composite airplane. But it’s not just that,” said Shanahan. “It’s the whole process, from a brand-new design using a new suite of tools that burns 20 per cent less fuel to bold innovations in technology to a more comfortable passenger cabin and flying experience.”

But casting a shadow over his upbeat progress report was a new problem involving the airliner’s brakes. Shanahan said the problem was in the software for the braking system and that it would not delay production, but that it was using up the cushion the company had allowed for holdups.

“It’s not a functionality issue, it’s a certification issue,” Shanahan said, adding that the supplier, General Electric, was handling the problem. “They have to rewrite the software for verification,”he said.

He emphasized that sales continue to break records, with almost 900 orders to date. As of today, the program has 896 orders from 58 customers, including yesterday’s order from Etihad Airways.

“This broad appeal has already translated into repeat business for the787. In the last year alone, we received orders for 259 787s. Of that number, 63 airplanes have been ordered by eight different repeat customers,” he said.

Shanahan also stressed the program is making steady progress, from recent production line moves to an important milestone called Power On, which proved the functionality and installation of the airplane’s electric systems, to being almost 100 percent complete on systems hardware and software goals.

“My honest assessment is we worked the right priorities, made the right decisions, and have a lot to be proud of,”said Shanahan.

With much of the focus on the first 787 Dreamliner, which is scheduled to fly in the fourth quarter of this year, Shanahan outlined the next set of key activities the plane will undergo.

“We are currently in the build-verification testing process, which validates electronics and hardware on the airplane to make sure they are functioning properly,” he said. “Things will really get exciting when we fuel the airplane and start the engines and APU for the first time. After that, we’ll move forward into gauntlet testing, which is a series of ground-based tests where we trick the airplane’s systems into thinking that itis air borne. Then we’ll conduct taxi tests and the airplane will take to the skies.”