Boeing rolls out first 787-9, plans test flights soon

The Boeing Co. is edging closer to flying the larger version of the Dreamliner for the first time.

The company recently rolled the first completed 787-9 from the factory to the flight line in Everett. Boeing says it plans to fly the new Dreamliner by the end of this summer. Boeing has two more 787-9s in final assembly.

With that first flight, Boeing kicks off flight testing needed to gain airworthiness certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Having already received certification for the 787-8, which is similar to the new Dreamliner, Boeing won’t have to go through as much testing on the 787-9.

“This is a minor variant, not a major one,” said Scott Hamilton, an analyst for Issaquah-based Leeham Co. The 787-9 flight test program “is not something that should be particularly challenging.”

Boeing is giving itself roughly nine months to complete flight testing and deliver the first 787-9 to Air New Zealand in mid-2014. Hamilton called Boeing’s timeline to first delivery “prudent” given the history of unpredictable, unknown issues popping up.

The Chicago-based jet maker delivered the first 787-8 in September 2011, more than three years behind schedule. Delays on the 787-8 pushed back design and production of the first 787-9, originally scheduled for delivery in 2010.

“The last thing Boeing wants to do is promise delivery and not make it,” Hamilton said.

Boeing and the Dreamliner program already are under scrutiny after the 787-8 experienced problems in commercial service earlier this year. The FAA grounded the 787-8 for three months while Boeing redesigned the jet’s lithium-ion battery system. Malfunctioning emergency locator beacons on the 787, found after an Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner caught fire in July, increased attention on the 787 program.

Boeing executives were upbeat about the Dreamliner program during the company’s earnings report last month. Jim McNerney, Boeing’s CEO, reaffirmed the company’s goal of reaching a 787 production pace of 10 jets monthly by the end of the year even with the introduction of 787-9 production. The company assembles 787s in Everett and at its facility in North Charleston, S.C.

“The factory will be operating at 10 a month” by the end of the year, McNerney said.

The new 787-9 is 20 feet longer than the original Dreamliner, the 787-8. The latest Dreamliner will fly 300 nautical miles farther and carry 40 passengers more than the 787-8, which seats 210 to 250 passengers.

The 787-9 isn’t the largest Dreamliner family member. In June, Boeing launched the 787-10, which seats 300 to 330 passengers. Delivery of that aircraft is pegged for 2018.

As of Tuesday, Boeing had delivered 81 787-8s to 14 customers, according to the company’s website. Boeing had received orders for 931 Dreamliners at the end of July. Although the 787-8 leads in orders, the larger Dreamliners likely will win more orders as delivery slots open up.

Greg Smith, Boeing’s chief financial officer, acknowledged last month the company is seeing pressure to increase production above 10 jets monthly.

That pressure “is led by demand for -9s and -10s,” Smith said.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Think Tank Cowork in Everett, Washington on July 19, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
The first co-working space opens in downtown Everett

Think Tank Cowork’s owner hopes the facility will inspire other business owners to call Everett home.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The real estate market took an abrupt turn this spring

Mortgage rates are up, but home inspections, seller concessions are back on the table for buyers.

The Lab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and inventors located at 404 N. Olympic Ave. (Photo credit: TheLab@Arlington)
New Arlington business incubator opens

TheLab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, inventors and business owners.

Patrons view the 787 exhibition Thursday morning at the Boeing Future of Flight Musuem at Paine Field on October 8, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Paine Field was county’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Not now

Snohomish County officials hope festivals and outdoor activities will fill Paine Field tourist gap.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood Chamber of Commerce ‘can’t keep the doors open’

The chamber is set to shut down at the end of the month due to financial challenges.

Maria Rios, a ferry worker of 13 years, helps Frank and Fran Butler, both of Washington, D.C., check out as the couple purchases food on Thursday, July 21, 2022, aboard the MV Suquamish ferry between Mukilteo and Clinton, Washington. Rios said food service returned to the Suquamish about three weeks prior. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Drink up! Happy hour on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry is back

More galleys are reopening as pandemic restrictions scale back. Get out of your car for concessions just like at the ballpark.

OnTrac Logistics has leased a building now under construction at Bay Wood Business Park on Everett's waterfront. The shipping company will open a facility there later this year that will employ 400 people. (Artist Rendering/Broderick Group.)
New Everett shipping facility to generate 400 jobs

OnTrac Logistics has leased a new building on the 12½-acre Baywood Business Park on Everett’s waterfront.

The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum at Paine Field in Everett. (Janice Podsada / The Herald) 20220419
Flying Heritage Museum to reopen with new owner at Paine Field

Walmart heir Steuart Walton bought the historic aircraft and artifacts. The museum is set to reopen within the year.

Renee's Contemporary Clothing store at 2820 Colby Ave. on July 11, 2022. The iconic downtown Everett store is closing in August after 29 years in business. (Janice Podsada/The Herald)
Renee’s, another iconic downtown Everett store, is closing

After 29 years in business, the longstanding clothing shop will shutter. In-person sales slowed when stores reopened.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Boeing is reporting a money-losing quarter as both its civilian-airplane division and the defense business are struggling. Boeing said Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  that it lost $1.24 billion in the first quarter and took large write-downs for several programs.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Boeing sees best month for aircraft deliveries since 2019

The company delivered 51 passenger and cargo planes in June, its best month for deliveries in recent years.

The Alderwood Towne Center, a 105,000 square-foot strip mall, is located at 3105-3225 Alderwood Mall Blvd. The mall, which has been sold, is home to 20 businesses, including anchor tenants Marshalls and Michaels. Photo Credit: CBRE Group.
Lynnwood strip mall near Link Light Rail Station sold

Alderwood Towne Center, home to 20 businesses, could eventually be redeveloped to take advantage of light rail.

James Berntson shows how his farm uses a trellis system to control tomato plants on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Radicle Roots Farm in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Backyard business: Snohomish farm thrives on less than one acre.

James Berntson grew Radicle Roots Farm using smart crop planning and organic practices.