New 787 General Program Manager Pat Shanahan said this morning that the first flight of the remains on the same revised schedule announced in October.
That means first flight is still slated for end of first quarter and commercial deliveries will start in December 2008. The first power-up in airplane 1 is on track for the end of January. That’s when all the systems are switched on for the first time.
“Power-on is significant. That means we can retire risk around the airplane and our schedule becomes much more predictable. Currently, all 92 system parts and functionality including Honeywell avionics software will be ready to go,” he said. Shanahan replaced Mike Bair as 787 general manager in October following a series of delays in commercial deliveries as a result of fastener shortages, supply chain problems and more work than anticipated on the Honeywell avionics software.
Many of those problems have been worked out, but Shanahan acknowledged the present schedule remains “aggressive.”
He said he will be focused on three major areas: progress made toward the late January power-on; working with tier one global partners to maintain the production schedule and processes to ramp up toward full-rate production.
“I want to see us go faster, but the rate of improvement [is good],” he said, adding there are still risks every day especially if something major is found in flight testing. “We are knocking them down every day.”
In fact, according to Shanahan, one of the first things he did was “retire” the development teams because the 787-8 model is now 100-percent designed. The development group has been reorganized into three groups focusing on Engineering/FAA Certification, Supplier Management and Final Assembly and Manufacturing.
“We need to more rapidly transition from development activities to a full-rate production program,” he said.
A major hurdle, Shanahan said, has been cleared with FAA certification. “The next step is demonstrating compliance,” he said, adding that 25 percent of component testing is complete and that testing on the composite structures is 80-percent complete. The plane is 50-percent carbon fiber.
He said the fastener shortage has been alleviated, but acknowledged that some big sub-assemblies are shipped without some things like brackets and fasteners.
“We have mapped every open hole to every fastener we need. It’s the same thing for each of the parts we need out there,” he said.
The shortages and other supply chain complexities have resulted in traveled work or out-of-sequence work that slows down manufacturing. But Shanahan said he is getting “his arms around that problem.
“There’s no real physics problems [with manufacturing], but just a lot of details. The conditions of assembly for airplanes 3, 4, 5 and 6 are much improved over airplane 1,” he said, adding that his predecessor tried “brute force” to fix manufacturing problems rather than applying disciplined processes.
“I know once we clean these up, the airplane will flow together better than anyone imagined,” he said.
Shanahan is viewed as a take-charge and hands-on manager who sticks to promised schedules. Asked how he vets suppliers who just tell him what he wants to hear, he said he just has “good eyeball-to-eyeball sessions” with them.
“We walk through it airplane by airplane. How many fasteners will they be missing? It’s a lot of hands-on details,” he said. “Conversations are real open and frank. I ask them what do they need and how can I help?”
Shanahan is visiting many of the tier one suppliers. One of those is Italian firm Alenia, which makes the composite fuselage barrels.
“I was blown away by the quality of structure and degree of automation when I saw those barrels being assembled. What gives me confidence is [Alenia’s] large investment in equipment and automation,” he said.
|New Boeing 787 Dreamliner General Program Manager Pat Shanahan