Boeing reaches Dash 10 milestone with lightning speed

A rendering of Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner that will be built exclusively in North Charleston. Design work on the plane has been completed.

Boeing Co. finished nearly two weeks early the detailed engineering and design work for its 787-10, the newest and longest member of the Dreamliner family that will be built exclusively in North Charleston.

The milestone is critical because it means the information needed to build parts and tools for assembly has been completed and released for fabrication or procurement, Boeing said in a statement. Assembly of the first “Dash 10” will be completed next year with initial flights scheduled for 2017 and the first delivery set for 2018.

Boeing officials have said the design moved faster than scheduled because of lessons the company learned while building its predecessor, the 787-9. The Dash 10 is a stretched version of the 787-9, which entered service in 2014.

“With the 787-10, we are building upon our experience and the 787-9 design itself to create this newest member of the super-efficient 787 family,” Ken Sanger, vice president of the 787 airplane development program, said in a statement. “Through our dedicated team and our disciplined processes, we have optimized the design for the needs of the market and are excited as we look forward to production.”

Ninety-five percent of the design and build of the 787-10 and 787-9 will be identical, reducing complexity, cost and risk across the production system and providing operational benefits to customers, Boeing said.

“Development of the 787-10 has been bolstered thanks in large part to Boeing’s success with the 787-9,” said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for Strategic Aero Research. “This has helped keep design and engineering targets in check.”

Boeing builds its 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners at North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

The Dash 10 will be built only in South Carolina because its fuselage is too big to transfer by special cargo planes that transport Dreamliner parts from suppliers to the final assembly plants.

“While it’s premature to suggest that the 787-10 could enter service earlier than planned, Boeing’s continued learning curve on the 787 family across its sites in Everett and North Charleston is paying dividends, especially as it ramps up in (production) rate with almost no drama at all,” Ahmad said.

North Charleston and Everett are building a combined 10 Dreamliners per month with production scheduled to increase to a dozen per month next spring.

The 787-10 is the third and longest member of the 787 family, with a range of 6,430 nautical miles that can cover more than 90 percent of the world’s twin-aisle routes.

Boeing touts the 787-10 as its most fuel-efficient wide-body model, saving 25 percent in fuel costs for replacement fleet and 10 percent better than any other new plane on the market.

To date, the 787-10 has logged 164 orders from nine customers worldwide, accounting for 14 percent of all 787 orders.

Reach David Wren at (843) 837-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_