As well noted by the blog, this occurred on Tuesday, December 15 (2009), About 27 months later than initially forecast.
Boeing has had such a great record for meeting delivery and production schedules, I was curious to review what happened to delay this great day in aviation history. I fear I noted some striking similarities between the 787 and Eclipse 500 programs, at least judging by the press releases. (The most striking perhaps, was the wildly inaccurate press releases themselves, in hindsight).
* "On September 5 (2007) (Boeing) announced a three-month delay, blaming a shortage of fasteners as well as incomplete software"
* "On October 10, 2007, a second three-month delay to the first flight and a six-month delay to first deliveries was announced".
*"On January 16, 2008, Boeing announced a third three-month delay to the first flight of the 787"
* "On April 9, 2008, Boeing officially announced a fourth delay, shifting the maiden flight to the fourth quarter of 2008"
* "November 4, 2008, the company announced another delay, this time caused by the incorrect installation of some of the structurally important fasteners"
* "Boeing confirmed on December 11, 2008, that the first flight would be delayed until the second quarter of 2009."
*"On June 23, 2009, Boeing issued a press release stating that the first flight is postponed..."
It is also interesting to note the EA500 "first flight" was likewise about 27 months late- the deposit locking first flight was August 28, 2002, the "real" first flight was December 31, 2004, 28 months later. It is also telling to note, in both cases, it was near the end of the year (VERY near, in Eclipse's case).
SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEMS FROM OUTSOURCING
* "On March 28, 2008, in an effort to gain more control over the supply chain, Boeing announced that it plans to buy Vought Aircraft Industries' interest in Global Aeronautica, owner of the South Carolina plant that manufacturers major portions of the 787's fuselage. The purchase will make the assembly plant a 50–50 joint venture between Boeing and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica."
* "In July 2009, Boeing also agreed to purchase Vought's facility in North Charleston, S.C. that makes 787 fuselage sections, for a total cost of $1 billion."
CONTROVERSIAL FAA MANAGEMENT INVOLVEMENT
* "The national union representing about 190 Seattle-based FAA engineers this past Tuesday submitted a formal critique to the agency, calling the new policy "an unjustified step backward in safety."
* "The former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman who oversaw the TWA 800 investigation, said he's disappointed in the FAA but not surprised."
* "It appears that management has overruled the judgment of the people that have day-to-day responsibility for the safety of aircraft..."
STUPENDOUS BACKLOGS BEFORE IT EVER FLEW
* about 840 firm orders for the 787
* about 840 firm orders for the EA500
More or less, in both cases. The 787 firm backlog was over 900, but there have been some recent cancellations. The EA500 "order"(tm) book was "over 2700", but how many were "real"(tm)? Well, 260 were "delivered"(tm), and Shane reported there were several hundred jilted wantabe owners, and the law suits reported earlier had over 200 plaintiffs.
(Note: I have no doubt the 787 "firm" orders are indeed very real- the 737 "Next Generation" likewise had stupendous firm orders -over 1000- before certification, and they proved to be very real indeed. Plus, Boeing is a publicly traded company- too bad Eclipse was not obligated to adhere to the same transparency standards...).
ONE THING STANDS OUT...
With the advantage of hindsight, there is ONE singular item which is disturbingly ... convenient, about the entire 787 saga:
THE ROLL OUT WAS ON 7/8/7
So what? With said advantage of hindsight, it seems THAT was just a little bit too...CONTRIVED. (EXACTLY like the December 31, 2004 "first flight" of the EA-500: that sort of thing doesn't coincidentally happen- it was staged).
Which, could make one think perhaps ALL the scheduled events were just a bit too contrived- and that the schedules themselves are contrived.
Using what we've read on our predecesor blogs (EAC and EAC-NG), one can reasonably deduce went wrong at Eclipse- too much focus on meeting scheduled stunts, and not enough focus on real development. Meeting the scheduled milestones, even if so shallowly as to reduce them to being simply contrived stunts, seemed to take precedence over delaying "the show" of scheduled stunts, whether it be first flight, Oshkosh, Sun and Fun, "Certification"(tm), "Delivery"(tm), etc.
With that frame of reference established, one wonders how much the 787 program has suffered from "7/8/7" thinking (artificial/unrealistic milestones/schedules).
FAA to Loosen Fuel Tank Safety Rules...