Boeing has shifted its schedule for the 747-8 Freighter to reflect an expected first delivery some time near the middle of next year, the company announced this morning. The company also announced plans to add a fifth airplane to the flight-test fleet to support the new schedule.
Although officially the 747-8F’s development schedule previously called for first delivery by year-end, company executives in recent weeks had alluded to recent flight-test discoveries that carried the potential to delay the airplane’s certification until early next year. However, a thorough assessment of the expected cumulative effect of the discoveries, including a low-frequency vibration in certain flight conditions and an underperforming aileron actuator, showed the need for a further schedule shift. While neither issue requires structural changes to the airplane, said Boeing, they have led to disruptions to certification testing.
Boeing said it does not expect the schedule change to materially affect its 2010 financial results.
“We understand the issues encountered in flight test and are working through the solutions,” said Pat Shanahan, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president and general manager of airplane programs. “We recognize that our customers are eager to add the 747-8 Freighter to their fleets, and we understand and regret any impact this schedule change may have on their plans to begin service with the airplane. With that said, the 747-8 Freighter is demonstrating the capabilities our customers need to be successful and we are confident in the value it will bring them upon certification and delivery next year.”