Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates covers top industry events to bring you the latest news, highlighting how it impacts Boeing and its competitors.
June 17, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Paris Air Show: Boeing jet launch and Airbus fly-by “not quite yet.”
Boeing didn’t launch the 787-10 at the Paris Air Show Monday. But Commercial Airplanes chief Ray Conner hinted twice that the launch will come later this week at the Air Show.
Charles Champion, executive vice president of engineering at Airbus, said the European jetmaker hopes to have its fly-by of the new A350 also this week.
Boeing started the opening day quietly with a committment from GECAS, the airplane leasing arm of GE, to buy 10 of the sometime-to-be-forthcoming 787-10s, conditional on Boeing formally launching the jet.
Conner told journalists at the GECAS press conference that formal launch will come ”not quite yet.”
“Don’t leave too soon,” he added.
Media anticipation for the 787-10 launch has now shifted to Tuesday. The A350 fly-by is likely later in the week.
Champion, who formerly led the A380 program, said that following the jet’s maiden flight last Friday the interior of the plane must be minutely inspected for possible cracks. Interior panels and insulation blankets are removed to allow a thorough inspection of the fuselage.
That takes a matter of days, he said. Then, before any fly-be in Paris, a second test flight is mandatory to ensure that the entire flight envelope is covered.
Champion said all that is doable and Airbus hopes for a fly-by before the Show ends. His main worry now is the weather.
When the Air Show opened at 8 a.m., so did the skies. Torrential rain, lightning and high winds elicited a public address system warning to take shelter. Later in the day, the skies cleared and it was hot and sunny for the afternoon flying display. When the Show closed at 6 p.m. the heavy rain and lightning returned.
Such weather could interfere with test flight plans, but the forecast for the rest of the week is much better. For Showmanship reasons, Thursday would be the ideal time to do a fly-by. That’s the day of the Airbus closing press conference.
Boeing chooses Monday for its main press conference, and it went off mostly free of news. Conner lightened his presentation by showing first the airplane design drawings sent to him last week by the 6-year-old son of a Boeing employee (the high-capacity version of Timmy’s cute designs featured a million passengers, each with a window).
The business presentation that followed covered familiar ground, underlining Boeing’s thinking on its post-787 development phase:
On the 787, Conner said, “we made the big techological leap into composites and the electric airplane. … The next step is, how do you build in the most efficient way at high rates.”