Systems Integration To Blame; Boeing Still Hopes For
Citing unnamed sources, a Seattle newspaper reported Thursday
the first flight of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has slipped to sometime
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said systems integration issues
are to blame for the delay. The paper's sources said engineers are
experiencing difficulties with installing flight control systems
and software, and getting those components "talking" with other
systems in the highly-integrated airliner.
In an attempt to ease concerns, on Friday Boeing spokeswoman
Yvonne Leach said the American planemaker is still targeting late
September for the first 787 flight, but conceded "that date could
move into fall as we proceed to do all the work in front of
"We remain on schedule for entry into service in 2008," the
planemaker said in a prepared statement Thursday, when asked to
comment on the P-I story. "The pockets of behind-schedule condition
vary. Since recovery plans are in place, our overall assessment is
that we are on schedule."
As ANN reported, Boeing
unveiled the 787 in a lavish public rollout ceremony July 8. At
that time, the aircraft was little more than a shell -- with very
few of its internal systems installed and connected.
Last month, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said it was possible the
Dreamliner's first flight could slip to October... but he also made
clear Boeing intended to have the plane flying by the end of
September... in itself about a month later than first planned.
"We feel we could still deliver the plane on time even if we
pushed a little beyond (the end of September)," McNerney said
during a conference call with analysts and media to discuss
second-quarter earnings. "But that's not the plan. The plan is to
fly by the end of September."
Any delay would cast doubts on Boeing's ability to meet its own
ambitious schedule for the 787. Boeing planned to have the first
airliner certified and flying for All Nippon Airways by the end of
May 2008, with several more in the hands of Chinese airlines in
time for the Olympic Games in August.
A delay into October -- and one of the P-I's sources said "we
are talking about more than a few days" -- would leave Boeing less
than eight months to meet those goals. By comparison, the last
all-new Boeing airliner, the 777, took about 11 months for flight
tests to be completed.
Though wary, analysts on Wall Street remain convinced Boeing
will still meet its goal, and not fall into a production quagmire
similar to what plagued rival Airbus last year with its A380
"I would not be too surprised or concerned to see something get
pushed out a couple months," said analyst J.B. Groh of D.A.
Davidson & Co. "Production issues like you saw with Airbus
would be a major concern. But at this point, I don't see that