Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner completes firm configuration after years of testing

July 2nd, 2010 - 5:02 am ICT by BNO News  

EVERETT, WASHINGTON (BNO NEWS) – Boeing announced on Thursday that the completion of firm configuration for the 787-9 Dreamliner had been reached after years of collaboration with airline customers and partners to determine the optimal configuration for the new jetliner.

“Firm configuration means the airplane’s structural, propulsion and systems architectures are defined and not changing,” said Vice President of 787-9 Development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes Mark Jenks.

Boeing completed the trade studies that are necessary to effectuate the jetliner’s capacity numbers and overall design. This will allow Boeing and its suppliers to begin designing the parts, assemblies, and other various systems of the 787-9. As the designs are finished and released to Boeing, production of the airplane can begin.

The first release of the 787-9 is due for delivery in late 2013.

“We have a disciplined process in place to ensure we have completed all of the requirements for the development stage of the program,” said Vice President and General Manager of the 787 program at Boeing Scott Fancher. “The team has done a fantastic job to get us through this important milestone.”

The airplane is the second variant of the 787 line, which thus far has three variants: the 787-8, 787-9, and the 787-3, with the 787-8 as the base model of the 787 family.

The 787-9 is the first variant of the 787 with a “stretched” or lengthened fuselage, and will seat 250 to 290 passengers. This variant will differ from the 787 in a number of ways, including structural strengthening, a longer fuselage, a higher fuel capacity, and a higher maximum take-off weight, which will allow for more cargo. This is all done with the same wingspan as the original base 787-8.

Boeing is targeting the 787-9 to overtake and compete with both passenger variants of the Airbus A330 as well as replacing their own 767-400ER, which entered into service in September, 2000. The airliner, like the 787-8, will be opening up a large number of new non-stop routes, flying more cargo and fewer passengers more efficiently than previous jetliners. The 787-9 will be able to fly nonstop from New York to Manila or from London to Perth.

Air New Zealand, the nation’s largest airline, is the launch customer for the aircraft. The airline ordered four 787-9s in May 2006, and originally expected the first delivery in late 2010 before a two year delay was announced by Boeing. Additionally, Qantas, Etihad Airways, and Singapore Airlines placed the largest orders for the 787-9, and expect deliveries in 2013.

“We have been working closely with our customers for years to reach this milestone,” said Vice President of 787-9 Development at Boeing Mark Jenks. “We are excited about the performance and capability this airplane will offer our customers.”

This all comes on the heels of news that gaps were found in the horizontal stabilizers of the test aircraft, which was due to wrongly installed shims. All aircraft that have been produced so far are to be inspected and repaired. The delay is thought to be only a small setback, and further testing will commence soon. The first 787-8 delivery is expected in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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