Boeing Sets New 787 Schedule

 - August 27, 2009, 4:35 AM

Boeing announced today that it expects the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner to occur by the end of this year and first delivery in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The new schedule reflects the previously announced need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft, along with the addition of several weeks of schedule margin to reduce flight test and certification risk, according to the company. Original plans called for an eight- to nine-month flight test schedule. If Boeing meets this latest projection, the airplane will reach the market some two and a half years later than first planned.

Boeing now projects achieving a production rate of 10 airplanes per month in late 2013.

“This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787’s game-changing capability in the hands of our customers,” said Boeing chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney. “The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete, and the team is preparing airplanes for modification and testing.”

The 787 team working the side-of-body reinforcement has completed initial testing and is finalizing design details of new fittings expected to ensure full structural integrity of the joint. Engineers will repeat the static test procedure that uncovered the weakness and fully analyze the results before first flight. Boeing will also perform fatigue testing on stringer components to validate the long-term durability of the modification.

Workers have prepared the first 787 test airplane and static test unit for the new fittings. The company said it expects to begin installation “within the next few weeks.”

Boeing has concluded that the initial flight-test airplanes carry no commercial market value beyond the development effort, because of the inordinate amount of rework and unique and extensive modifications made to those aircraft. Therefore, it will reclassify costs previously recorded for the first three flight-test airplanes from program inventory to research and development, resulting in an estimated non-cash, pre-tax charge of $2.5 billion, or $2.21 per share, against third-quarter results. The company said the charge will not affect its future cash outlook.