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segunda-feira, 26 de setembro de 2011

#NEWS Boeing to deliver first 787 after years of delays

Airlines expect new jet to offer more comfort, open new routes and provide fuel savings


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, On Saturday September 24, 2011, 6:12 pm EDT
Boeing delivers its first 787 jet on Sunday. It's been a long time coming.
The new jet, which was supposed to be flying passengers three years ago, has been delayed by production and design problems. But now it's here, and airlines expect it to offer travelers much more comfort, open up new routes and provide significant fuel savings.
The first one goes to Japan's All Nippon Airways, which has been printing the 787 logo and "We Fly 1st" on its business cards for years.
Airlines love the jet, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner. They've ordered more than 800, well above levels for previous new jets.
"A lot of carriers are betting that this is going to be a winner," says George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting in Fairfax, Va.
Instead of the usual aluminum skin, most of the 787 is covered in carbon fiber, basically a high-tech plastic that is strong but lightweight. Military planes and portions of other jetliners have used that material for years, but this is the first time so much has been used on an airliner.
The new material brings improvements that passengers should notice.
Its strength allows windows to be bigger and higher, so passengers don't have to hunch over to see the horizon. Electronic dimming replaces pull-down shades. That should mean you'll no longer be blinded when the guy next to you falls asleep with the shade up.
Finally, the cabin is pressurized to the equivalent of 6,000 feet, instead of the usual 8,000 feet. That means air pressure will be closer to what passengers are used to on the ground. And without corrosion-prone aluminum skin, the humidity can be kept higher. Those two changes should reduce dry noses and throats.
All Nippon plans to begin flying the 787 from Tokyo to Okayama-Hiroshima on Nov. 11. The first international route will be Tokyo to Frankfurt starting in January.
The first U.S. customer is United Continental Holdings Inc., which will get its first 787s next year and plans to fly them between Houston and Auckland, New Zealand, and Houston and Lagos, Nigeria.
Those are good examples of "thin routes" that airlines say the 787 will be good for -- routes for which there is regular demand that won't fill a larger plane. The 787's size, fuel efficiency and long range should allow airlines to turn a profit on those routes.
The jet will be as much as 20 percent more fuel-efficient than planes it replaces. Its efficiency was a nice perk when Boeing first proposed the 787 in its current form in 2003. Now it's essential for airlines dealing with high fuel costs.
Building an all-new plane like the 787 is a massive undertaking. Delays stacked up. Boeing was hit with an eight-week strike in 2008. It had to reinforce the spot where the 787's wings meet the fuselage. In November, the company had to delay the plane further after an electrical fire forced a landing during a test flight.
Boeing expects to deliver a combined 25 to 30 of the 787s and new 747-8 this year. To meet the high demand. Boeing has set an ambitious goal of building 10 per month by the end of 2013. No one has ever made a large plane that fast.
Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at the Teal Group, thinks Boeing will miss that goal because the company hasn't smoothed out its production process fully.
It's also not clear when the 787 will make money. Boeing already took a $2.5 billion charge in 2009 on the program, and it owes additional money to customers for the late deliveries. Boeing executives have said they will announce when the jet will be profitable after the first one is delivered.
The 787 list price runs between $185 million and $218 million. Discounts on new jets are common, though. Aboulafia says it's not clear how steep the discounts offered by Boeing were to lock in all the orders.
Boeing rival Airbus hopes to soon launch its new A350, also made with a significant amount of carbon composites. A successful 787 will put pressure on Airbus to meet its fuel-efficiency goals, and to deliver the plane on time.

Boeing to deliver first 787 Dreamliner

Boeing 787 Dreamliner ANA is the launch customer for the Dreamliner - the plane is due to arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday
US planemaker Boeing is to deliver its first 787 Dreamliner later on Monday to Japan's All Nippon Airways, after three years of delays.
The Dreamliner had originally been scheduled for delivery in 2008 but Boeing has suffered a string of setbacks, the latest being an onboard fire during test flights in January.
The fuel-efficient plane is made from lightweight composite materials.
Boeing plans to make 10 of the planes per month from 2013.
The plane will be delivered in Everett, Washington before being flown to Tokyo, where it is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.
Boeing says the single-aisle plane features the industry's largest windows, a lower cabin altitude and cleaner air - all of which combine to allow passengers to arrive at their destinations more refreshed.
But the problems with the Dreamliner have damaged Boeing's reputation and the company will hope a successful launch will help put to bed some of the memories of the delays it suffered.
Saj Ahmad, analyst at FBE Aerospace, said Boeing lost oversight of its production system, leading to the string of "embarrassing delays and increased project costs".
"Boeing's saving grace is that the fuel-efficient 787 family represents a stunning technological breakthrough unseen in the history of aviation and lays the foundation for the way in which all future generations of planes will be built - using stronger, lighter materials such as composites rather than traditional aluminium, steel and other metals."
But he added: "Make no mistake - handing over the first 787 does not in any way mean or represent Boeing turning a corner in its troubled flagship programme."
Production of the Dreamliner is currently running at about 2.5 planes a month. The key will be attaining the 10-per-month target Boeing has set itself for 2013, Mr Ahmad said.

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Aerospace and Defence

Boeing's 787, 'Murphy's law of airplanes,' finally gets to a customer

Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP - Getty Images
An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Tokyo's Haneda airport during a test flight on July 3, 2011, as fire engines spray it with water
Boeing officially delivered its first 787 jet to All Nippon Airways on Sunday, more than three years after the airplane maker originally promised to get the new model to its Japanese customer.
“It’s been just one problem after another,” said Scott Hamilton, a longtime aerospace analyst with Leeham Co. “It’s been the Murphy’s law of airplanes.”
The delays, caused by design and manufacturing snafus related to the company’s decision to outsource large chunks of work to others, have been a huge and costly headache for Boeing.
Mike Boyd, an aerospace analyst with Boyd Group International, said the problems not only delayed the 787 but also tied up engineers who otherwise could have been working to modernize other airplane models to better compete against archrival Airbus and other up-and-comers.
Still, in the long run, many expect the airplane to pay off for Boeing.
“It’s still going to be several years before Boeing works its way through the effects of this, but when they do it’s going to be a good airplane,” Hamilton said.
The airplane, which relies largely on lightweight composite materials instead of aluminum, promises to use less fuel and require less maintenance than comparable planes. The twin-engine airplane will seat 200 to 300 passengers, depending on configuration, and boasts new comforts such as a more humid cabin.
“It’s a superb airplane,” Boyd said.
The fuel and maintenance savings should be attractive to cash-strapped airlines trying to control costs despite economic uncertainty and big fluctuations in fuel costs. The company currently has 821 orders from 56 customers, including United Airlines, British Airways and Air India.
That should keep Boeing production lines rolling for years. Boeing has not said how long it will take to work through all the orders, but it has said that it hopes to be churning out 10 planes a month by the end of 2013.
The delivery Sunday is scheduled to be followed by celebrations Monday before the airplane flies away Tuesday to enter commercial service. The delivery ceremonies will be held at the company’s sprawling manufacturing facility in Everett, Wash., north of Seattle.
ANA said it plans to use the first plane for a few special flights in late October before beginning regular commercial service Nov. 1. It is slated to fly both domestic and international routes.
The 787 program, sometimes dubbed the Dreamliner, was launched in 2004, and the first plane originally was scheduled to be delivered in mid-2008. For the 787 more than any previous model, Boeing relied heavily on other companies to design and manufacture the airplane, as well as share part of the big financial burden. That  made sense in theory, but in reality some of the outsourcing turned out to be costly and often disappointing, analysts said.
The delays may have been a big benefit for rival Airbus, which is developing a rival A350 model that Boyd thinks has a lot of promise. The long-range airplane, which is slated to seat more than 400 passengers depending on configuration, also promises lower operating costs than its current competitors.
“It has given Airbus a chance to get out from behind the 8-ball,” Boyd said.
Even after it delivers the first 787, Boeing still faces challenges related to the model.
For one,  Boeing is battling the National Labor Relations Board over its decision to build a second 787 production line in South Carolina in addition to the production facility it has in Everett. In a case that has attracted a lot of attention on Capitol Hill, the NLRB has accused Boeing of violating labor law by saying it was adding the production line there because of recent union strikes in Washington state.
Boeing is undoubtedly hoping the 787 delivery goes better than efforts to deliver the first 747-8 Freighter to Cargolux last week. In a highly unusual move, the airplane company refused to take delivery of the new plane as scheduled after the two sides were unable to work out last-minute contractual issues.
Slide show: see images of the 787


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