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Boeing Pulls Dreamliner's First Flight

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Boeing pulls Dreamliner's first flight

Boeing has delayed the maiden flight of its flagship jetliner, the 787 'Dreamliner', just days before it was scheduled to take to the sky.

The 787, which is already two years late because of previous production problems, has again been hit by a manufacturing gremlin.

This time the American planemaker needs to reinforce a side section of the aircraft.

The latest delay is also likely to mean Boeing will have to push back its delivery schedule even further, leaving it potentially exposed to multi-million dollar compensation claims from disgruntled customers.

Scott Carson, chief executive of the company's commercial airplanes division, said: 'As we are delaying the flight testing... there will be some impact (on deliveries) but we don't know of what magnitude.'

The first flight of the new plane - much of which will be made of lighter, plastic composites instead of aluminium - had been due to take place on June 30.

Boeing has received 866 orders for the Dreamliner to date, making it the firm's fastest selling model. The 787 will eventually be the main rival to Airbus's A380 'superjumbo' on long-haul routes.

Glitches ground Boeing's Dreamliner flight

Boeing Co. again postponed the first flight of its much-delayed 787 Dreamliner, because of a structural problem that executives deemed small but that further damages the aerospace giant's credibility.

As recently as Friday, Boeing had said the complex jetliner would fly by the end of this month. But late Friday, engineers determined that unexpected stresses they had recently discovered would hamper manoeuverability in the air, said Scott Carson, chief executive officer of Boeing's commercial-airplane division, in a conference call. The engineers decided to scrub the flight until a reinforcement could be designed and installed.

"While difficult, this was the prudent step to take," Mr. Carson said.

The announcement, which sent Boeing's shares down 6.5 per cent to $43.87 (U.S.) in New York Stock Exchange trading yesterday, marked the fifth time Boeing has delayed the program because of hitches in the Dreamliner's design or production. Japan's All-Nippon Airways Co. was slated to receive the first Dreamliner next year. Now it isn't clear when that delivery will take place.

"We are disappointed that the first flight of the 787 will be postponed, and urge Boeing to specify the schedule for the program as a whole as quickly as possible," the Japanese carrier said in a statement.

Mr. Carson said Boeing may need several weeks to determine how long the new delays will be and how much the setback will cost the company. He said the problems aren't related to workmanship or the plane's new materials. The Dreamliner will be the first commercial jetliner made largely from composites of carbon fibre, reinforced with plastic resin. "The fundamental technologies are absolutely sound," Mr. Carson said.

Boeing has orders for 866 Dreamliners, making it the most popular new model the company has ever introduced. But customers cancelled orders for 45 of the planes this year amid the deepest aviation-industry slump in decades.

The latest holdup may aid some airlines, which will be happy to delay paying for new planes and will benefit from millions of dollars in compensation payments from Boeing. But others are counting on promises the plane will deliver lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance costs, and will hold greater appeal to passengers.

"They can't keep picking a date and missing it - the industry is depending on them," said Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. spokesman Paul Charles. Virgin has 15 Dreamliners on order that were due in 2013 and was already in compensation talks with Boeing over previous delays, Mr. Charles said.

Virgin on Monday announced an order for 10 new A330-model jetliners from Boeing rival Airbus, and said it is in talks to buy Airbus's planned A350 model, which it is developing to compete with the Dreamliner. Still, Virgin, like most Dreamliner customers, is committed to the Boeing model and its promised efficiency. "When it is ready, it will be a great plane," Mr. Charles said.

Airbus could gain more from Dreamliner delays because its A330 is the most modern plane now produced in the same size range. But Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., can take only limited advantage of the situation because its A380 superjumbo has faced big development delays similar to the Dreamliner's, and the planned A350 could hit such snags before its first delivery, now slated for 2014.

"New aircraft programs are always difficult, as we well know," said Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy. "There is no doubt that they will sort things out."

The Dreamliner's latest delay comes at a particularly difficult time for Chicago-based Boeing because its defence division is battling program cutbacks at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Boeing officials said the fix will involve a small number of lightweight parts, covering multiple spots only a few centimetres across. The installation shouldn't disrupt production of new planes, or require the existing prototypes to be returned to assembly facilities.

Spruce goose?

Hmm. Boeing doesn't convey a lot of confidence to the aviation industry I imagine.

Edited by cashinmattress

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Interesting aspect to this is that the Dreamliner was supposed to showcase technologies that allowed 20-30% fuel savings - i.e. to give the airlines 20-30% more time before they become toast.

Wonder if this kind of efficiency gain just isn't possible?

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this kind of engineering must be amazingly complex - delays are inevitable. It makes me lauch that the yanks scorned the A380 when it was delayed and now Boeing are chewing on the same delay duration.

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Boeing had problems whilst developing the 747 Jumbo jet. Check out Wiki:

The flight test program was hampered by problems with the plane's JT9D engines. Difficulties included engine stalls caused by rapid movements of the throttles and distortion of the turbine casings after a short period of service.[49] The problems delayed 747 deliveries for several months and stranded up to 20 planes at the Everett plant while they awaited engine installation.[50] The program was further delayed when one of the five test aircraft suffered serious damage during a landing attempt at Renton Municipal Airport, site of Boeing's Renton plant.

By the way is it true that Boeing stands for:

Bits of Engine In Neighbours Garden? :lol:

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CNBC announced this as breaking news today.

A bald chap behind a desk said that it was "a minor problem ... the join between the fuselage and the wing". Then he picked up one of those plastic Boeing models mounted on a stick and pointed to ... the join between the fuselage and the wing. Couldn't have been clearer: a MINOR problem.

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American manufacturing is in a state of collapse imo. The great engineers of old replaced by MBA's and accountants, and arts degree holders. I'd be willing to bet a small amount of money that the plane will never fly commercially.

Boeing itself is one of the last manufacturers left in America, everything else has moved mainly to Asia. The Asians themselves are building up their aviation corporations.. so the future is probably Airbus and some Asiatic company. Or a Boeing headquartered in America but everything made and even assembled in Japan.

Already I read the new plane is something like 30% American parts, and 40% Japanese parts.

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American manufacturing is in a state of collapse imo. The great engineers of old replaced by MBA's and accountants, and arts degree holders. I'd be willing to bet a small amount of money that the plane will never fly commercially.

Boeing itself is one of the last manufacturers left in America, everything else has moved mainly to Asia. The Asians themselves are building up their aviation corporations.. so the future is probably Airbus and some Asiatic company. Or a Boeing headquartered in America but everything made and even assembled in Japan.

Already I read the new plane is something like 30% American parts, and 40% Japanese parts.

This is rubbish, america remains even today the world's largest manufacturer in absolute trading value, and the world's largest exporter.

check your facts before you spout such complete pish.

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They've still got 800 or so firm orders, apparently.

It's not so much the delays, but more the way they have been announced, each time pretending everything is hunky-dory until the last minute like some school-kid lying about his non-existent project. No wonder their customers are getting twitchy - perhaps that's why 57 of these "firm orders" have been cancelled this year, so far.

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This is rubbish, america remains even today the world's largest manufacturer in absolute trading value, and the world's largest exporter.

check your facts before you spout such complete pish.

It probably depends what counts as manufacturing too. For example I think the US has a great chemical production industry.

But in physical engineered products, like tv's, cell phones, washing machines, cars, trains, motors, cameras, those types of products the USA appears to be in retreat. The next one to go after the electronics was the car industry and their industry has basically gone down now except Ford. Although production of foreign owned and engineered products will still be huge in America. It seems to me one of the next to go might be airplanes.

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Boeing had problems whilst developing the 747 Jumbo jet. Check out Wiki:

The flight test program was hampered by problems with the plane's JT9D engines. Difficulties included engine stalls caused by rapid movements of the throttles and distortion of the turbine casings after a short period of service.[49] The problems delayed 747 deliveries for several months and stranded up to 20 planes at the Everett plant while they awaited engine installation.[50] The program was further delayed when one of the five test aircraft suffered serious damage during a landing attempt at Renton Municipal Airport, site of Boeing's Renton plant.

By the way is it true that Boeing stands for:

Bits of Engine In Neighbours Garden? :lol:

Indeed, they sat around with lumps of concrete stuck to the engine mounts, to stop the wings pinging upward.

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