Boeing resumed production of 787 Dreamliners yesterday as it joined the major assemblies of the fifth airplane designated for flight test, the company announced today. Production had ground to a virtual halt for some two months as workers replaced thousands of improperly installed or nonconforming fasteners in the prototypes’ fuselages.
The airplane, designated ZA005, will become the first to fly with General Electric GEnx engines. Rolls-Royce Trent 1000s will power the first four prototypes. Boeing plans to fly the first Rolls-powered airplane some time during this year’s second quarter.
“This airplane signifies our return to a steady production rhythm,” said Jack Jones, vice president of 787 Final Assembly and Change Incorporation. “Sections are arriving in Everett at the completion levels committed by our partners and close to what is expected for mature production…The substantial progress made by our partners streamlines the assembly process, which is essential as we ramp up production.”
Five of the six airplanes designated for flight test have reached varying stages of completion. Boeing restored power earlier this week to the first flight-test airplane, ZA001, and production testing has resumed as the airplane prepares for first flight in the second quarter. ZA002 occupies the fourth and final production position in the factory, while ZA003 and ZA004 stand in the third and second production positions, respectively.
Boeing said it has finished the fastener re-work needed for the first flight of ZA001, and has nearly completed the task on ZA002. However, the company has confirmed that some nonconforming fasteners, particularly in hard to reach areas, will remain on the airplanes during flight test and do not pose a safety hazard. It plans to replace all the fasteners before customer deliveries.
“We have applied the resources necessary to complete all the outstanding work on these airplanes and keep the production line moving forward,” said Jones.
Assemblies for the final flight-test airplane, ZA006, are in production at partner sites worldwide. In all, production has begun on assemblies for 30 Dreamliners.