A Boeing 787-9 joins the Terrible Teens

EVERETT — The Boeing 787 Dreamliners parked on Paine Field’s Runway 11-29 have a new member, at least for a little while.

Unlike its 10 neighbors, there is no indication that Boeing will struggle to sell this airplane.

The new arrival is the second 787-9 to be finished and is line number 133 of the 787 program. The plane, tail number N789FT, is still painted in Boeing livery, and flew about one-third of the 787-9 flight test hours, according to the blog All Things 787.

The blog gives it a delivery date of August 2015 to Air New Zealand, which took delivery of the first 787-9 earlier this summer.

A Boeing spokesman said the airplane does have a customer, but declined to identify the company or comment on the delivery date.

The airplane joined 10 787-8s that Boeing has had trouble selling.

Most are from early in Dreamliner production, giving rise to their nickname — the Terrible Teens. They required the most rework of early 787s.

Boeing has said it is shopping the planes around, undoubtedly at steep discounts.

For now, they sit on the runway, concrete blocks hanging in place of engines and taped up against the elements.

Some still have the liveries of their originally scheduled customers — four for All Nippon Airways (including line numbers 12, 15 and 18) and two for Royal Air Maroc (including line number 17). Boeing and those customers agreed to move the orders to later production aircraft.

Line numbers 5, 10 and 16 are also definitely on the runway. All Things 787 lists line numbers 13 and 19 as being there as well. However, the blog only lists 10 Dreamliners on the runway, but 11 were there this week, leaving one airplane unidentified.

One 787-8 does have engines on it and appears to be having interior work done. It is in the eastern most position on Runway 11/29 and painted white.

As for the 787-9, it will take at least a few months to prepare for delivery — tearing out test flight equipment, installing the interiors, changing the livery and so on.

The Dreamliner program has been several times more expensive to develop and get running than Boeing initially anticipated.

Some headaches remain. In early August, Air India asked Boeing to compensate it for ongoing glitches with its 787s, India’s Economic Times reported Thursday.

Production issues aren’t completely resolved, but they are improving. Dispatch reliability is rising.

And airlines love the airplane’s promise of lower operating costs and the ability to open new long-haul routes.

Analysts agree, the Dreamliner will make a lot of money for Boeing. But what happens to the Terrible Teens is less clear.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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