Experts Say Problems Encountered by 787 Dreamliner are Normal

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Boeing’s next-generation aircraft 787 Dreamliner is experiencing some growing pains. In December, a United Airlines 787 diverted its flight due to mechanical problems. Last week, a Japan Airlines 787 delayed its flight after a pilot on another aircraft saw that the 787 was leaking fuel, then a maintenance worker discovered an electrical fire in another Japan Airlines 787. These reports may make the passengers uneasy boarding the 787 which debuted in 2011, but aviation experts say new aircraft usually encounter such problems.

Every new airplane is going to have these kinds of “teething problems,” said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and former airline mechanic. The manufacturers usually “get a handle on it quickly and fix it.”

According to Boeing Vice-President and Chief Project Engineer for 787 Mike Sinnett, “There are issues we have seen that we will need to work through and just like any new airplane program we work through those issues and we move on.”

Sinnett added that the on-time departure rate of the Dreamliner has been in the high 90 percents in the first 15 months it has been flying.

“These are best-in-class airplanes and their performance has been best in class,” he said. “But we are not happy until we are perfect.”

Goglia added that new airplanes are much safer than ever before.

The Dreamliner is not the only aircraft that experienced some issues in the its first months of flying. Janet Bednarek, an aviation history professor, said that the Airbus A380 that debuted in 2007 had cracks in the wings. Aviation consultant Michael Boyd shared that the Boeing 747, an avant-garde aircraft during the 70s, experienced some engine problems when it was new. Boyd added that the operational advantages of 787 is enough that the orders for the aircraft will stick even if faced with these issues.

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Air Force One to return to Everett factory

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Air Force One, the blue-and-white icon of U.S. super power, has been all-Boeing during the jet age.

Starting with Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, a succession of special Boeing 707s served eight U.S. presidents. One of those airplanes today is parked at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

In 1990, with President George H.W. Bush in office, two Boeing 747-200Bs replaced the 707s. They were built in Everett and outfitted in Wichita, Kan.

Friday, one of them flies home to Paine Field, carrying President Barack Obama for an Everett factory visit and speech. Boeing Field in Seattle is the usual destination of U.S. presidents, so this will be the first time in 19 years that one of the planes has returned to the factory of its birth while carrying a president.

Air Force One is a flying White House, with 4,000 square feet of floor space for up to 102 people, secure communication systems and medical facilities. In a pinch, surgery can be performed. These 747-200Bs have a range of 7,800 statute miles, but just in case, they can be refueled during flight.

The 747 isn’t the only Boeing plane flying U.S. VIPs. Modified 757s serve cabinet members, the first lady, the vice president and, occasionally, the president.

And Boeing hopes to provide the next generation of Air Force One. The Air Force says new planes will be needed in the latter half of this decade. The aviation trade press has reported that the company would like to offer the new Boeing 747-8 or even the 787, the assembly line of which Obama will tour Friday.

Airbus considers refining A330

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PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is considering beefing up its A330 passenger jet in a bid to expand a recent winning sales streak for the junior member of its wide-body jet family, the planemaker said on Monday.

While the twin-engined aircraft, in service since the 1990s, is enjoying a second honeymoon with airlines due, in part, to delays in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, analysts say it faces a threat from a possible stretched version of the 787.

An Airbus spokeswoman said a decision on how to enhance the A330 would be taken in the second half of the year.

The EADS unit is considering increasing the maximum amount of weight the A330 can carry by up to 5 tonnes and adding drag-reducing wingtip devices called “sharklets” — upward-slanting wingtips designed to help the aircraft fly further on the same amount of fuel.

They are already planned for the smaller narrowbody A320 and similar devices appear on some Boeing 757s.

A330 sales have flourished in the past two years as Boeing encountered delays in bringing out its carbon-composite 787, which recently entered service.

It has shorter range than either the 787 or Airbus’s planned carbon-fibre alternative, the future A350, but has sold well to airlines operating intermediate long-haul routes.

With the changes under consideration, the A330 would be able to lift up to 240 tonnes at take-off, Airbus said — an increase of 5 tonnes for the most popular variant, the A330-300, and 2 tonnes for the A330-200.

Increasing the maximum take-off weight allows airlines to add more fuel to carry the same number of people and their baggage further, or else carry a larger payload.

France’s La Tribune newspaper said the moves to increase the maximum tolerated weight at take-off would add 7 percent to the range of the A330, potentially giving it a range over 7,000 nautical miles.

With a three-class layout, the A330-300 carries 295 people up to 5,650 nautical miles or 10,500 kilometres, while the A330-200 — a later spin-off with a shorter fuselage and more range — takes 253 people up to 12,500 km.

Boeing has said it was considering a stretched version of its 787 called the 787-10 that would carry about 300 people approximately 6,800 nautical miles.

The move has been described by an industry official familiar with Boeing pre-marketing as a potential “A330 killer”.

The skirmish addresses a lucrative niche of the industry alongside high-profile battles between the A350 and Boeing’s 787 and the older but larger 777, which had record sales last year.

Airbus has said the carbon A350 will eventually outshine the 777 because it will be lighter and cheaper to run, while Boeing was expected to make similar claims about the 787-10 against the A330, which stems from roughly the same era as the 777.

Air France-KLM Finalizes 787 Deal


As Air France-KLM prepares to roll out the initial elements of a turnaround plan for Air France, the airline group confirms that it has closed its deal with Boeing for 25 787s, of which KLM will be the initial operator, starting in 2016. The airline group also has 25 787s on option.

Air France-KLM confirmed the airline group is the unidentified customer for 25 787-9s listed in Boeing’s order book when the airframer disclosed annual figures last week. Air France also will operate the 787, although at a yet-to-be-set date. An engine decision is pending.

Air France-KLM announced its intention to buy both the 787 and the Airbus A350 in September. An airline official says that talks are under way to finalize the firm order for 25 Airbus A350s. Those talks involve both Airbus and Rolls-Royce, the sole engine supplier.

The 787 order confirmation comes in what could be a pivotal week for Air France, with a board meeting likely on Thursday to set into motion the first elements of a turnaround plan under new CEO Alexandre de Juniac. The executive previously said the plan would involve a two-stage process, the first of which would focus on bolstering the existing cost-savings plan.

Decisions on a wider reorganization, aimed at reducing the airline’s debt level, boosting its short- and medium-haul performance and stepping up its overall competitiveness are not expected to emerge until June because of the need to coordinate with labor groups.

Boeing now holds 305 orders for the long-range 787-9 and 555 for the standard 787-8.

Qantas to cut emissions through biofuel

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Algae and garbage will have more influence on Qantas’s carbon emissions than the Gillard Government’s carbon pricing regime, the airline says.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce said the flag carrier was investing in biofuel research as part of its push to meet an industry target of a 1.5 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2020.

The airline is working with US renewable energy companies Solazyme to develop a business case for the use of algal-derived sustainable fuel.

It is also working with another US group, Solena, which deals with waste-based fuel.

Qantas has a fuel bill of almost $4 billion a year.

Mr Joyce was speaking after Lufthansa launched the first daily commercial passenger flights using biofuels last week.

An Airbus A321 will use a biofuel blend on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route during a six-month trial.

Speaking at an aviation conference in Sydney this week, Mr Joyce said the Qantas group would be subject to three different sets of carbon-pricing legislation, in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

A Qantas spokesman said algae could come from Queensland sugar cane and waste from city garbage.

The airline is assessing feasibility studies and may seek government and other corporate investment if setting up a plant is feasible, the spokesman said.

Mr Joyce said both the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 were already 20-25 per cent more fuel efficient than other aircraft. The company has $20 billion in more efficient aircraft on order.

He said the airline had “no ability to digest the carbon tax” and was passing on the $115 million cost to domestic passengers tickets at $3.50 per travel sector.

Boeing 787: Advanced aircraft, advanced training system

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Boeing Training and Flight Services has been working nearly as long on the preparation for training 787 pilots, maintenance technicians and cabin crew as the aircraft itself has been in gestation.

Now Boeing’s purpose-designed, almost paperless 787 instruction system, married with completely integrated training suites to take pilots through classroom to full flight simulator, are already preparing technical crews and management pilots for the launch customer, All Nippon Airways. ANA expects to put its aircraft into service in about August 2012.

Customers for the aircraft can choose from five locations out of Boeing’s 18 worldwide “campuses” that already operate 787 training suites. These include Seattle, Singapore, Tokyo, London Gatwick and Shanghai, and they will operate a total of eight full-flight simulators between them. They also have cabin door and cabin systems simulators for flight attendant training.

“The innovations of the 787 Dreamliner don’t end with the airplane itself,” explains Sherry Carbary, vice-president Boeing Flight Services. “Boeing is changing the game through continued innovation in our advanced suite of training technologies.”

The integrated suite of electronic training devices that Carbary refers to was designed by Thales to a Boeing specification. It starts with a fully wired classroom where pilots and technicians can learn about the aircraft systems at the same time as familiarising themselves with the laptop/tablet/electronic flight bag with which they will work on the line or in the hangar. These are plugged into the classroom network so the instructor can monitor students’ progress.

Following the classroom stage, technicians and pilots progress to the flight training device, which is powered by the same software, where they can familiarise themselves with the flightdeck equipment and controls, and become adept at systems manipulation, but at a fraction of the cost of learning in a full-flight simulator.

It is a fixed-base device, but has moving controls and throttles, working flight instruments, engine and systems displays, so it can “fly”. Multipurpose display screens above the instrument panel coaming can be selected to show simulated external visual cues, including the head-up displays that are superimposed on the external view.

For the flightcrew, the final step in the Thales training suite is the full-flight simulator from which, depending on their experience, pilots can emerge with a zero flight time 787 type rating.

Carbary comments: “By bringing this cutting-edge training directly to airlines in the regions of the world where they’re based and serve their passengers, we’re offering our customers flexibility and efficiency in flightcrew training.”

She is not talking only about pilots, cabin crew and systems maintenance technicians. One of the 787′s unique points is the extent to which composite materials are used in the airframe. It is the first large passenger aircraft for which the fuselage is entirely composite, so Boeing has had to prepare training for customers’ engineers in how to repair composite materials.

Back to the classroom for a moment: when they first start instruction, mechanics and pilots both learn about aircraft systems using the same tools they will use at work. This is a new experience, with the potential to be highly effective in imparting systems knowledge and consolidating understanding.

The “manuals” are contained in an identical laptop/tablet/electronic flight bag, the same one used by each of the specialisations on the line. Pilots as well as technicians learn to use the tablets for diagnostics and repair. On-screen graphics can, in virtual reality, walk the student through the process of system diagnostics, and the geographical process of identifying a faulty line replaceable unit, locating it, and the removal and replacement process. It would enable a pilot on a diversion caused by a faulty box to diagnose which one it was, and if a replacement was available, the pilots would have a demonstration of how to fit and test it.

Another simple advantage of having all the manuals contained in a Toshiba tablet is that the students’ traditional flight bags are less heavy; and they can take the computers back to their rooms to practise what they have learned.

Boeing explains its training suite like this: “The use of real-time simulation in the maintenance training environment allows practice on the same tools in the classroom that the mechanics use on the actual aircraft. Desktop simulation is integrated into the classroom and throughout the course. “Additionally, a 3D virtual airplane is used where students can walk around the aeroplane and operate key functions.” That would include walking around the aircraft exterior to locate the access hatch, opening it by operating the fasteners, and climbing inside to find the equipment that needed attention.

The 787 flight training device, according to Boeing, “provides flightcrews with the same flight management and control systems as the full-flight simulator, making it ideal for instrument familiarisation and reinforcing knowledge of airplane systems. It develops proficiency in all normal procedures, simple non-normal procedures, the flight management system, auto-flight operations, and display operations. It also includes electronic flight bags and head-up displays, and enables flightcrews to become familiar with complex non-normal procedures.”

When the pilots are familiar with flight routines and systems operation from their use of the flight training device, they move to the full-flight simulator to become familiar with the 787 in normal flight operations. Boeing explains: “It includes dual heads-up displays and the class 3 EFB. The line-oriented simulation training verifies proficiency in normal procedures. The simulator is designed to train pilots to become proficient in visual manoeuvres, instrument landing system and non-ILS approaches, missed approaches using integrated approach navigation, non-normal procedures – with emphasis on those affecting handling characteristics – and windshear and rejected take-off training.”

Training course requirements vary according to the amount and relevance of experience that pilots and technicians bring with them from working on other fleets. For example pilots with no previous Boeing experience can convert to the 787 in 20 working days, according to the Federal Aviation Administration-approved syllabus. Current 777 pilots can convert with only a five-day differences course, and from other Boeing types it takes 13 working days to win a 787 type rating.

Beyond the cockpit and the cabin, Boeing has to enable customers to ensure that their maintenance personnel can maintain and repair composite structures. The manufacturer offers composites training in Miami and Singapore.

Composites training is split between classroom instruction and hands-on skills development in a purpose-built composite training facility. There are three different course levels in the composite repair training curriculum. These include:

The inspectors course: designed to teach the basic construction and properties of 787 composite materials. During the training the students learn how to perform an inspection and analysis to make a “fix or fly” judgement on 787 composite damage, and how to perform a quick composite repair.

The technicians’ course: teaches students how to carry out repairs in accordance with the 787 structural repair manual.

The engineers’ course: to teach students how to design repairs using approved Boeing design data.

Each 787 customer is provided with an allocation of training points per aircraft according to the number purchased, and they can use these at any of the Boeing training centres. Since the 787 has sold an unprecedented total of 835 aircraft before service entry, Boeing’s Training and Flight Services division faces a considerable challenge to help airlines meet the 787′s needs.

Boeing will be integrating its training obligations to its 787 customers’ needs for expert personnel with those of customers for its other types. It will also be competing with the rest of the commercial air transport industry for suitably educated trainee engineers, pilots and technicians who are prepared to join an expanding industry and undergo training for it.

Nine B787s for Kenya Airways

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On Apr. 14, Kenya Airways announced that it has signed a deal for the purchase of nine Boeing 787 aircraft to replace its ageing fleet and expand routes and flight frequencies.

Kenya Airways Chief Executive Titus Naikuni said six of the new planes would replace six of the company’s aging fleet of Boeing 767s, while the rest would be for expansion on new routes.

The airline had been mulling the purchase of A330s from Airbus, after the delivery of the 787, as per an earlier deal signed in 2006, was delayed from October 2010.

Naikuni also said the first of the 787s will be delivered in the last quarter of 2013, and the airline will have an option to buy a further four planes.

“They have given us delivery dates that we are comfortable with. It is a super aircraft,” Naikuni told media.

The size of Kenya Airways’ fleet, which also includes Embraers for domestic and short regional routes, has been curbing its ambitions by limiting destinations and flight frequencies, even on routes with high demand.

Kenya Airways has announced plans to raise an unspecified amount of cash to fund expansion. The process is at the stage of seeking regulatory approvals, Naikuni said.

Rising oil prices would force the company – whose strategy hinges on connecting African travellers to the outside world through its Nairobi hub – to increase fares to cushion its bottom line.

Fuel costs account for between 30 and 40% of the airline’s total operating costs.

“It (oil prices) is impacting us quite a bit. We will have to increase our fares,” said Naikuni, adding the jump in crude was so fast that hedging and fuel surcharges were not enough to deal with it.

Aeroflot orders $4 billion worth of Boeing 777 Jets

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Aeroflot will buy $4 billion worth of Boeing airliners to expand its long-haul fleet, the airline said Thursday.

The flag carrier confirmed that it has sealed a deal with the U.S. aviation giant for 16 Boeing 777s to be delivered over a six-year period between 2012 and 2017. Eight 777-200ERs and eight 777-300ERs will be delivered.

A Boeing 777

The 327-seater 777-200ER is priced at $232.23 million in Boeing’s catalogue, while the 300ER, with 365 seats, has a price tag of $284.1 million. That would put the total value of the deal at $4.13 billion.

Both models of the 777 are long-haul aircraft designed for intercontinental flights. They should fill a gap in Aeroflot’s fleet created by repeated delays in delivery of Boeing’s flag ship 787 Dreamliner.

Aeroflot originally ordered 22 of the 290-seat Dreamliners three years ago, but delivery has been repeatedly delayed. The two sides have set up a working group to look for ways to deliver at least two of the Dreamliners before the Sochi Olympics kick off in 2014, Aeroflot said.

Aeroflot is also waiting for its first deliveries of the Sukhoi Superjet, which were expected to arrive in December. The first two of the new medium-haul airliner ordered by Aeroflot are now expected to be delivered in the spring.

At this point Aeroflot may not be in a hurry to receive the 98-seat Superjets, since its flights are scheduled to begin only in March 2011, and the airline does not want to pay leasing fees on idle aircraft, Vedomosti reported.

- The Moscow Times -

Exchange Program for 787 Dreamliner Part Offered By Boeing

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On Nov. 3, Boeing announced the availability of a rotable exchange services program that will support the operation of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. This program will help airline customers reduce inventory costs by providing access to a Boeing-managed inventory pool of parts that is available to ship within 24 hours of request.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner final assembly

Dale Wilkinson, Vice President, Material Services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “The 787 Rotables Exchange Services Program will provide a dedicated pool of high-value, dispatch-critical parts for airlines, while helping them to improve operations support and cash flow.” Wilkinson also said that “The program manages configuration, warranty and reliability for the covered parts, freeing the airline to focus on passengers and the operation of the airplane.”

With the Boeing 787 Rotable Exchange Program, the airline removes a part from the airplane and ships it for exchange with a new unit from Boeing’s exchange pool. Boeing plans to support up to 600 high-value rotable parts, including such items as the Auxiliary Power Unit and Variable Frequency Starter Generator. By providing coverage for parts typically priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, the exchange program can provide considerable inventory cost savings for airlines.

The program provides a flight-hour cost basis that enables the customer to better forecast maintenance costs, while spreading out high-cost expenditures for rotable parts over the 10-year term of the agreement.

787 Dreamliner Flight Training Simulator Launched by Boeing

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The 787 Dreamliner flight certification training has been started by Boeing Training & Flight Services following the provisional approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for Boeing‘s Seattle-based 787 flight training devices

Pilots train on a 787 flat panel training device and a 787 full-flight simulator as part of flight training. Both devices were manufactured by Thales.

Sherry Carbary, Vice president, Flight Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “The innovations of the 787 have inspired us to develop the most effective training curriculum based on our customers’ training needs matched with efficient delivery and modern simulation tools.” She also stated “With the FAA‘s approval on our flight training devices, we are embarking on an exciting journey toward delivering qualified and competent crews.”

The provisional designation will be removed once the airplane is fully certified. Local FAA offices will approve training courses customized for individual operators and these may be based on provisional approvals prior to certification of the airplane.

Mike Fleming, 787 Director of Services and Support, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “We’re pleased with the progress we are making in ensuring our support products and services are ready for our customers.” Fleming also mentioned that “This is an exciting time for our customers and an important achievement for the entire Boeing team as we move toward delivery of the first 787.”

Currently, there are eight training suites at five Boeing Training & Flight Services locations around the world namely in Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai, Seattle and Gatwick, U.K.

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