Boeing Pushing 787 Delivery Deadline
Boeing insists the first 787 Dreamliner will be delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways by the end of this year even though it hasn't started certification flight testing yet. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing's commercial airplane unit, said snags in pre-certification flight testing, one of which resulted in the shutdown of an engine, have caused delays but he said there was some cushion in the schedule. Four of the six test aircraft are flying and have accumulated about 400 hours, but Albaugh agreed there is much to do before Dec. 31. "Some people said that when the first plane actually flew we could breathe a sigh of relief because we had retired the technical risk," Albaugh told the Journal. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
The Dreamliner is about two-and-a-half years behind schedule and the delays have cost billions in penalties. More delays would not only cost more in penalties but could damage the credibility of the program in a tight airliner market. Boeing said it's optimistic the 787 passed a crucial milestone Sunday when it underwent the ultimate load test. The wings were flexed upward 25 feet and the airframe hit with 150 percent of its design stress limit and it appears to have passed, although the data hasn't been fully analyzed. Dreamliners are also starting to get out a bit more. One was in Montana and another spent time in California as the company tests it in extreme conditions.