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Mon, Nov 12, 2007

AerCap Chief Says 787 Will Likely Be Later Than Forecast

Six Month Delay May Only Be The Beginning

One of the world’s largest plane leasing companies said he expects even more delays for Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner... one month after the American planemaker announced a six-month bump in the road to the plane's first flight and deliveries schedule.

AerCap’s Klaus Heinemann says Boeing is trying to avoid delays similar to those experienced by Airbus.

"Before 2008 is over, the delay (on the 787) may be a little more than what Boeing currently admits to," Heinemann told the Washington Post last week. "The current assessment of the delay by Boeing is generally viewed in the market as an optimistic assessment."

Boeing has orders for 736 of the lightweight, carbon-composite planes -- worth about $120 billion at list prices -- but is struggling with out-of-sequence work and a shortage of hardware on initial aircraft under construction.

As ANN reported, last month Boeing pushed back the first test flight to next year and postponed initial deliveries to late November or December 2008 versus an original target of May 2008.

Heinemann thinks first deliveries will probably be on time, but Boeing may miss its targets for 2009.

"Where the market has doubts is not so much on Boeing's assessment on the first delivery, toward the end of next year," Heinemann said. "Where the market has some doubts is with respect to the ramp-up of the production capacity for the aircraft during 2009."

Even adjusting for the six-month delay, Boeing said last month it was still aiming to deliver 109 787s by the end of 2009. Boeing said 30 to 35 plane deliveries originally scheduled for next year are likely to be pushed into 2009, meaning a sharper-than-expected production ramp-up in 2009.

Wall Street analysts and airline operators have already expressed concern about Boeing meeting its new schedule. The issue could prove costly for Boeing if it has to compensate airlines for late deliveries, as Airbus did for delays of up to two years on its A380 superjumbo, according to the Post.

AerCap -- a Dutch firm, with a fleet of 325 aircraft -- is not a 787 customer, and has not bought any planes directly from Boeing... but Heinemann said he is "in favor of a more balanced portfolio."

The Dutch firm's fleet is predominantly comprised of Airbus planes, chiefly because AerCap used to be part-owned by Germany's Daimler, a major shareholder of Airbus' parent EADS).

FMI: www.boeing.com, www.aercap.com/intro/index.asp

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