Last updated: August 27, 2009 7:12 pm

Boeing Dreamliner to fly this year

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Boeing said its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner would take flight by the end of the year, but it would take a further $2.5bn charge on the troubled project.

The US group said it would take the charge in the current quarter after determining that some of its initial test-flight aircraft would not make it to market because of the extensive fixes needed.

In spite of that, Boeing shares surged more than 8 per cent in afternoon trading on Thursday to $51.95 as investors took hope the Dreamliner would finally move forward after falling more than two years behind schedule.

In June, the group announced a fifth delay, saying it discovered weakness in the structure where the wings attach to the body. The maiden flight had been set for June 30.

The aircraft-maker was forced last month to take over a key supplier in an effort to gain tighter control of the production process.

However, Boeing said on Thursday it expected the first Dreamliner to fly by the end of the year and be delivered to customers in the fourth quarter of 2010. By 2013 it expects to produce 10 aircraft a month.

“This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787’s game-changing capability in the hands of our customers,” said Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chief executive. “The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete, and the team is preparing aeroplanes for modification and testing.”

Boeing has more than 800 orders for Dreamliners, but several airlines have cancelled because of delays for the $180m aircraft. In July Boeing warned the delay related to the wing could eat into its projected $68bn-$69bn in revenues this year and revealed it was sitting on nearly $8bn of inventory for the project.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways, set to receive the first delivery, was disappointed to hear that it would have to continue to wait.

“We understand the need to make the best and safest aircraft possible and appreciate that delays due to engineering issues of the current nature must be solved in order to move forward and achieve this,” ANA said. “However, as launch customer and future operator of the 787, the length of this further delay is a source of great dismay, not to say frustration.”

Boeing said its new schedule reflected the time required to reinforce the side-body of the aircraft and the extra time needed to reduce test-flight risk.

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