Boeing 787 Dreamliner Schedule Still A Dream

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The economic slowdown may mean that some companies waiting on Boeing's next-generation, long-range composite fuel miser, the 787, are happy to continue waiting -- but with the aircraft already two years behind schedule the company's late-stage wing redesign is adding complications. The 787 was nearing flight tests when composite layers near the wing/fuselage seam separated during ground testing. Now, as engineers scramble to apply a workable solution, a new 787's test schedule may still be weeks away and until that mark is reached, the aircraft's development has been indefinitely delayed. Boeing last month said it wouldn't provide even a new target for the first flight, let alone first delivery. Industry watchers and customers will have to wait, though Boeing has indicated it expects to provide more information before the end of the quarter. The company has said it won't release any timetables until the redesign has passed rigorous testing. As it is, the jet is two years behind schedule, but still holds about 850 orders. But with nearly all of its programs suffering under the down economy, Boeing is well aware of its obligations to its customers.

Reuters reported Thursday that chief program engineer Chris Musoke told a breakfast meeting of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots in Atlanta, "Obviously, we've disappointed our customers." Musoke added that he believed the company was weeks away from setting a new schedule and that "we have to stick to our plan whenever we lay it out and perform to it."