First Flight Could Be Pushed Into Late October... Or
Is the Dreamliner giving Boeing engineers nightmares? The
Seattle Times reported Saturday further delays may be in store for
Boeing's much-anticipated 787 Dreamliner. The company will
reportedly announce Wednesday the first flight of the 787
could be pushed into late October or later, according to a source
close to the program.
As ANN reported, rumors of a
delay began swirling early last month. The Seattle
Post-Intelligencer said unnamed sources reported the first flight
had slipped to sometime in October.
Systems integration issues were reported as being behind a
possible delay at that time. The paper's sources said engineers are
experiencing difficulties with installing flight control systems
and software, and getting those components "talking" with other
systems in the highly-integrated airliner.
The Times reports issues with the aircraft's structure, which
was partially dismantled after the ceremony for the July 8 rollout.
The 787 was disassembled to facilitate the installation of such
systems as electrical wiring, flight deck instrumentation and
hydraulic tubing as well as replacing temporary fasteners with
The fastener replacement is taking much longer than expected,
said the source, and the wiring installation has barely even begun.
First "power on" is still weeks away.
But, said the source, "there's a good chance it can still fly by
the end of October."
The company said Friday the tail section had been reattached but
crews still had the engines, doors and the leading edges of the
wings yet to go.
Boeing spokesperson Yvonne Leach said, "We have in place
contingency plans that would protect the planned May 2008 first
delivery in the event that the date of first flight moves."
"The target date could well move into the fall as we proceed
through the complex work of final assembly, systems integration and
structural testing," she said.
"There is an immense amount that must come together during the
upcoming weeks and ... there are inherent risks that do not surface
until this particular phase of airplane development."
CEO Jim McNerney acknowledged in July the first flight might not
happen until October.
The company said the aircraft presented at the rollout ceremony
didn't have a lot of the installation work that was supposed to
have been done by the company's major airframe partners prior to
If the first flight takes place at the end of October, which
leaves only seven months of flight testing if the company is to
make its goal of a May 2008 release. The 777 had 11 months of
Despite the gloomy rumors, Boeing is still planning a late
"The plan is the plan until we know for sure we are going to
change the plan," Leach said.
There has been some speculation Boeing is paying the price for
placing marketing ahead of construction. A veteran Boeing engineer
told the Times Friday the assembly job was rushed to meet a
"The 7/8/7 date was for show," he said. "The showmen at Boeing
had the upper hand over the engineers."
The scramble to catch up is in full swing. Jarrod Bartlett, a
Boeing spokesperson, said the company is currently hiring 60 to 80
mechanics for temporary work at the Everett plant, according to the
The 787's program chief Mike Bair and Boeing Commercial
Airplanes CEO Scott Carson will give more details at the update
Wednesday, Leach said.