Speculation that Boeing will once again delay the 787 program reached fever pitch yesterday among Wall Street circles and industry talking-heads. Journalists, bloggers and journa-bloggers alike (anyone understand the difference anymore?) did their duty to firm up the story - calling Boeing, 787 customers and anybody who might be willing to go on-record for a smidgen of confirmation.
So it wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world (but certainly cold comfort) when this morning Goldman Sachs reported it does not expect the first 787 to be delivered before the third quarter of next year. If true, this would represent another delay of at least six months. After market close this evening, however, Boeing continues to maintain that “nothing has changed in terms of our statements on 787 since our January update”.
Here in North America, Air Canada, Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines have not commented (to its credit, Northwest has been working hard on a response). And US lessors Aviation Capital and International Lease Finance (ILFC) remain quiet.
But this is not a statement about the reported 787 delay – you know to simply do a bit of heavy Googling for rewrites of the Goldman Sachs report and analysts commentary. Rather, it is to make the point that in 2008, a hot story has a tendency to grow long legs – even without on-record comment. The industry is now waiting anxiously to see if a pair of snug-fitting credibility will be wrapped around those gams.
All it takes is one outspoken customer - that's what Airbus found out in March 2006 when ILFC chief Steven Udvar-Hazy told former Everett Herald journalist - and early aerospace blogger - Bryan Corliss that the A350 design, at that point, wasn’t up to snuff. Present a few days later at the annual International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) in Orlando, Florida, Hazy reiterated his comments, and told an awe-struck audience that the aircraft didn’t measure up to the 787.
You know the rest of the story. Within months Airbus was working on a redesign of the long-range narrowbody. ILFC in October 2007 revised its agreement with Airbus to replace its November 2005 order for 16 A350 aircraft with 20 A350 XWBs.
So, can we expect big revelations about the 787 next week at ISTAT? A who’s who of the aviation industry will be in attendance, including ILFC. This journalist, blogger, journa-blogger, is headed down to Florida tomorrow to begin the journey to Celebration, and praying the story doesn’t break on-record when she’s trying to relax, Huck Finn-like, on a boat floating down the St Johns River.
(River photo from Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:St_Johns_River.jpg)