Dreamliner Delayed (Again)


Having most recently set its sights on late this year, Boeing is blaming Rolls-Royce for the latest in a series of delays that now has the company estimating first delivery of its 787 Dreamliner sometime in the first part of next year. Boeing says it needs Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000 engines, an engine option for the 787, for the final phase of flight testing this fall. Rolls-Royce says it can not support that schedule but is working with Boeing to expedite delivery of the engines. A 787 engine being tested at a Rolls-Royce facility in early August suffered an uncontained failure that significantly damaged both the engine and its casing. Boeing and Rolls-Royce previously said that failure would not impact the airliner’s delivery schedule. With the most recent delay, the Dreamliner may now run at least three years behind schedule, and that passes significant costs to Boeing. The company’s first customer appears to be understanding of the latest delay even as already completed “production” 787s sit engine-less near Seattle.

Unexpected delays don’t just cost Boeing time or credibility. Some have collectively cost Boeing billions of dollars in penalties paid to customers. And if the ongoing tests show that further modifications must be made to the production design, those finished production models awaiting engines must be made to comply with the necessary changes. ANA, Boeing’s rollout customer, announced Friday it trusts “that the time will be used to deliver the best possible aircraft in the shortest possible time frame.” More than 850 orders from more than 50 customers worldwide are still sitting on Boeing’s books.