787 On Schedule ... For Year-End 2010

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Originally scheduled to fly its highly efficient composite-built 787 Dreamliner in August 2007, Boeing announced Thursday it has reset the aircraft's first flight date to year-end 2009 with first deliveries now estimated for year-end 2010. Earlier this year, the company announced the jet was on track to fly before July. Days later Boeing revealed it had learned the airliner's wing would need to be re-engineered and that the aircraft's schedule would be derailed altogether until that issue was resolved -- a period that lasted approximately two months. The delays and uncertainty have caused order cancelations (more than 70 this year, the Wall Street Journal reported) and deferrals from some operators. Qantas and Virgin Atlantic, for example, have dropped their short-term interest all together, going with the Airbus A330 instead. The Dreamliner's new test schedule is padded; Boeing told the Journal it includes "some cushion ... against the possibility of unknowns." The company is confident in the fix and the jet still holds about 850 orders; Boeing will be ramping up production by 2013, when it hopes to be putting out 10 Dreamliners each month.

Boeing "booked the third-quarter, noncash $2.5 billion charge for the first three of its six aircraft," said the Journal. Translation: Of six test aircraft, Boeing's first three have not drawn much interest from buyers due to the frequency of changes thus far incorporated into the design. Those aircraft aren't selling. Boeing is hoping to recover some of the cost of the next three test aircraft if interest develops for that group.