Next Friday, LAN Airlines will take delivery of its first 787-8, registered CC-BBA (msn: 38471). The Aircraft is seen here earlier this month performing a high-speed taxi test prior to its first flight (which took place on Aug. 6).
LAN will become the fourth airline to receive a 787, with the third, Ethiopian, having just taken delivery of their first 787 last week.
Although the 787s well-publicized development has been protracted, deliveries are beginning to happen in earnest, and as many as 25 of the new airplanes could be in service by the end of the year. Initial deliveries for Qatar Airways, United Airlines, and China Southern are expected in the next few weeks. Eleven 787s are already in service with All Nippon Airways, while Japan Airlines is using four on revenue flights with one more in pre-delivery flight testing (meaning delivery is likely to happen soon).
Early 787s have required post-production changes and reworks, but new-build aircraft are now leaving the production line without needing rework, which will only increase the pace of deliveries.
Production at Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina, 787 facility is also ramping up. A ground fire at Charleston in late July, after an engine failure, prompted the manufacturer and the NTSB to investigate the incident. The investigation attributed the failure (and fire) to a fractured fan mid-shaft. The GEnx is a dual-shaft engine, where one shaft connects the compressor spool at one end to the high pressure turbine spool at the other. The investigation and metallurgical tests are continuing. At the time of the fire, there were more than 100 GEnx engines in service on both 787 and 747-8 aircraft, and they had racked up over 125,000 hours of trouble free revenue operation.
LAN’s 787s, like those of ANA, use the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine. Part of ANA’s fleet was temporarily grounded in July due to minor issues with the Trent – Rolls Royce is working to replace some parts on the engines which ANA felt were vulnerable to corrosion. Two of the aircraft were almost immediately back in service.
LAN will use the 787 to expand its international network and, over time, replace the A340-400, which it uses on its long-range passenger routes. Executives at LAN have hinted that the first route for the aircraft could be LAX-Buenos Aires, but once more examples arrive, the LAN 787s will be used on service to Europe from Chile, specifically Santiago-Madrid-Frankfurt. The first LAN 787s may also be used to connect Europe with Lima, Peru.
The 787 is not the only new aircraft to be on the flight line for the newly merged LATAM Airlines, as TAM is due to take delivery of two new 777-300ERs and LAN Cargo is due for one 777 Freighter in the next couple of weeks.
© Photographer: Alex Kwanten