After multiple delays, the Boeing 787 has finally been certified, with both the FAA and EASA granting type certificates and the FAA granting a production certificate. Congratulations to Boeing on persevering through a series of difficulties and the “unknown unknowns” that can plague aircraft development program. Boeing’s Jim Albaugh summarized the moment at the celebration ceremony as follows: “Certification is a milestone that validates what we have promised the world since we started talking about this airplane. This airplane embodies the hopes and dreams of everyone fortunate enough to work on it. Their dreams are now coming true.” Delivering the airplanes is the next step, and ANA will take possession of its first 787 on 25 September, with ceremonies on 26 September.
As the first aircraft with a composite fuselage and main structure, all eyes will now be on how the 787 performs in service, and the reliability of its advanced technologies. Some airlines are reluctant to be launch customers of aircraft, understanding that improvements are generally made within the first 100 or so units of production. ANA has taken launch customer risk, and will carefully ramp up its service, first with special introductory charters, then domestic service, followed by regional service in Asia and then long-haul operations.
As the old saying goes, pioneers take arrows, and Boeing has taken a quiver full on this program. We wish Boeing and its customers the best as the 787 enters service.