"Of course we are disappointed . . . but we are still confident inthe design of the plane." So confessed Boeing CEO Jim McNerney in a telephone news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
McNerney was referring to the delivery of the long-awaited 787 Dreamliner. Unveiled to the press just weeks ago, the 787 was slated to begin a program of intensive air trials next month and delivery late next spring. Now, all of those plans have been shelved.
According to McNerney, Boeing had been experiencing "difficulties" in the assembly of the plane at the company's Everett, Wash., facility. Unlike previous planes, major sections of the 787 were "jobbed" out tovarious international sub-contractors who in turn shipped their parts to Boeing for "final mating."
In the past, most of that work was done in house. By sub-contracting major parts of the 787, Boeing was hoping to reduce manufacturing and labor costs. Now, that approach has resulted in major delays The 787, which has almost 600 orders on the books, is the best-selling plane Boeing has ever launched.
The first test flight, originally slated for November, has now been pushedback to early spring 2008. The first delivery to Japan's ANA, was slated for mid-spring 2008, that nowhas been pushed back to November-December 2008 at the earliest. The Boeing delay comes as chief rival Airbus prepares to deliver its first superjumbo A380 to Singapore Airways next month.
That aircraft program also experienced similar production problems that pushed its delivery almost two years behind schedule.
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