October 12, 2007
Boeing delays delivery of 787s by 6 months
Boeing on Wednesday pushed back for six months the first deliveries of its highly touted 787 Dreamliner jet, which now will not reach eager customers until December 2008.
The US aerospace giant, in a dogfight with Europe's Airbus for supremacy in civil aviation, also delayed the first flight of its "green" long-range jet to late March 2008.
"We are disappointed over the schedule changes," said Boeing chief executive officer Jim McNerney.
But the CEO said that despite the delays, "we remain confident in the design of the 787, and in the fundamental innovation and technologies that underpin it."
Up to now, Boeing had been gaining ground with the wildly successful Dreamliner programme as its archrival Airbus delayed its new jets coming onto the market.
To date, Boeing has 710 orders for the new fuel-efficient aircraft from 50 airline companies, representing more than 110 billion dollars at catalogue prices.
But in early September, Boeing had already been forced to push back the 787's maiden flight until late 2007, citing challenges with out-of-sequence production work, including parts shortages, and remaining software and systems integration activities.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson told analysts on a conference call that that coordination of production at various locations around the world has proven to be more complex than believed.
"It's a matter of starting up the supply chain rather than a fatal flaw in the supply chain," he said.
Additionally, he said, "We felt it was prudent to add margin back into our flight test programme" which had been on a tight schedule.
He said he believed this new schedule "is achievable, and we are all aligned to make it happen."
Carson said the company still expects to deliver 108 of the Dreamliners by the end of 2009, only three fewer than originally planned. Executives said about 35 of the deliveries will be pushed back from 2008 to 2009.
The Dreamliner, Boeing's first new model in 13 years, takes advantage of the advances made in aviation technology in the past decade, using high-tech composites instead of aluminium.
Up to 50 percent of the primary structure of the plane - including the fuselage and wing - are made of composites such as carbon-fibre, which reduce its weight and make the aircraft more fuel-efficient.
Boeing, which aims to build some 2,000 Dreamliners over the next two decades, maintains that it will consume 20 percent less fuel than similar-sized planes already on the market.
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