787 First Flight: 1Q09 (or 4Q08)

Update, October 9:

In a third story posted by Mary late last night, Boeing sticks to its plan for a first flight in the fourth quarter this year. Originally the first flight was supposed to be late October. At the Farnborough Air Show, program chief Pat Shanahan said November; and more recently, December became the target date. Boeing CFO James Bell told an investors conference in mid September the 787 delay is a one day-for-one day on the strike. It won’t take too much longer for the first flight to slip. Aerospace analysts already predict it.

Original Post:

Our colleague, Mary Kirby, at Air Transport Intelligence (we both write for the same Flight Global family of publications) reports that Boeing is planning on the first flight of the 787 in the first quarter of next year. Her ATI report, on the paid-subscription site, includes this passage:

Boeing now eyeing 1Q for 787 flight testing
Mary Kirby, Philadelphia (09Oct08, 00:52 GMT, 187 words)

Over a month after Boeing machinists began strike action, bringing jetliner production to a standstill, the airframer is now eyeing a further delay to the 787’s maiden flight.

Responding to comments by a Northwest Airlines executive concerning the carrier’s requirement that its 787s be delivered with the range and specifications promised, a Boeing spokesman in a telephone interview today said the airframer will have “more specific airplane performance data following flight testing. That’s scheduled to happen first quarter 2009.”

This expands on her earlier report with a free posting on Flight Global that Northwest
Airlines is unhappy with the status of its airplanes at the moment. This full story may be found here. The relevant passage in this story is:

Boeing will have more specific airplane performance data following flight testing, which is scheduled to occur during first quarter 2009.

This is the first confirmation by Boeing that the first flight is now the 1Q09; only yesterday, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer speculated the first flight slipped, reporting:

The first flight of the Dreamliner was to have taken place by the end of this year after a series of production and supply-chain issues. But the strike has probably pushed that out to at least early 2009, although Boeing has not confirmed this.

The P-I’s full story may be found here.

Several aerospace analysts had already forecast the first flight was slipping, even before the IAM struck Boeing on September 6.

Update, 7:20 PM: Mary’s full story from the ATI site has now been posted on the free site and it is here.

3 Comments on “787 First Flight: 1Q09 (or 4Q08)

  1. Yet again, the shear arrogant and stupidity of Boeing exec making promises they cannot keep without breaking. Maybe its time some of those airlines that order the 787 should start considering ordering Airbuses A350.

  2. Amazing that only a few years back Boeing couldn’t put a foot wrong, was seen to be gold plated, the darling of Wall Street… whereas Airbus, at best, was stumbling with every step, was told it was doing everything wrong, going in a completely opposite direction and being on the brink, on the verge of total collapse … and Dick Aboulafia can be credited with some of his best works of fiction! :o) Times somewhat changed….. however lets not get carried away.
    Of all the companies, Boeing, probably has the most experience to get over the difficulties. Yes, it will take them time but they will get there. My own prediction is that EIS will probably occur in mid 2010. However, I do not see Airbus and the A350, in particular, benefiting from this delay because:
    1. A350 does not compete directly with the 787! The only models where they do compete are A350-800 and the 787-9, the bottom and the top of the respective model ranges. A350 is more of a 777 competitor. On the other hand A330 is competing directly with the 787and although it is a very good aircraft, it will be outclassed by the 787. If an airline is forward thinking, they will stick with the 787 simply because there is no other viable alternative. Some airlines may choose to order some A330 as an interim lift but in the long term, it is a temporary solution.
    2. Both 787 and the A350 are sold out till at least 2018, there is absolutely nothing in the short term for them, hence again, they will stick with the order. Even A330 is sold out till 2012/13.

    So, again, yes Boeing is hurt now by the combination of program mismanagement, production issues and the strike but the 787 will fly and be delivered to many very happy customers, eventually.

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