Boeing won't meet 787 delivery date

May target is put off to Dec. or Nov. 2008

October 11, 2007|By McClatchy-Tribune

TACOMA, Wash. -- Boeing announced yesterday what outside experts have been saying for weeks: The company's 787 Dreamliner is encountering so many problems that deliveries will be delayed.

The company said the first commercially operational Dreamliner will be delivered to All Nippon Airways in November or December next year instead of May.

"We are disappointed over the schedule changes that we are announcing today," said Boeing chief executive W. James McNerney Jr. "Notwithstanding the challenges that we are experiencing in bringing forward this game-changing product, we remain confident in the design of the 787 and in the fundamental innovation and technologies that underpin it."

Until yesterday, Boeing had assured customers and the public that despite complications, it would deliver the 787 on its original schedule.

But with the first example of the plane still lacking complete wiring and plumbing in the company's Everett, Wash., factory, Boeing decided to give itself more time to work out the kinks.

The company originally had said the first 787 would fly in August, then September. Last month, it delayed the first flight to November or December but held on to its May delivery date. The first flight has now been delayed until the end of the first quarter of 2008.

That left the company five or six months to test the plane and get the Federal Aviation Administration to certify it for commercial service. That's less than half the time it typically takes to test a new plane.

Boeing said the delay won't have any material effect on its financial projections.

The company said that despite the delay, it plans to deliver 109 planes in 2008 and 2009, three short of its original goal of 112.

The company's stock dropped $2.77 a share, or 2.73 percent, to close at $98.68.

The company had said that the effect on earnings would be minimal, but the delay was a difficult pill to swallow, particularly in light of the problems that its rival had delivering its newest plane, the A380 superjumbo. Airbus will deliver the first of those planes this month to Singapore Airlines, two years behind schedule.

The 787 is different from planes that any other aerospace company has built before. It is made largely of composites. The material required the creation of new production methods, new repair methods and new plants.

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