Boeing 787 looks set for another serious delay

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Pressure is growing on Boeing to provide its revised production schedule for the 787, as speculation grows that the programme has suffered another lengthy delay.

Analyst Goldman Sachs has reported today that it does not expect the first 787 to be delivered before the third quarter of next year, representing another delay of at least six months.

Citing "sources", Goldman Sachs says that power-on of the first aircraft - scheduled for the end of March - has slipped until June, which will further delay the first flight and have a knock-on affect on the planned production ramp-up.

Goldman Sachs says final assembly of other development 787 airframes has been delayed, and that it expects the flight-test programme - slated to begin three months after power-on of the first aircraft - will last 11 months.

"Boeing continues to underestimate the amount of work required on the 787," says the analyst. It adds that it has lowered its 2009 787 production forecast from 80 to 50 aircraft.

The 787 programme is already around nine months behind schedule, with flight testing originally due to start in the third quarter of last year and first deliveries scheduled for May this year.

Boeing has already begun searching for interim aircraft capacity to help early 787 customers affected by the delay. Flight sources indicate that the latest delay to the programme could be even more severe than Goldman Sachs is warning.

Boeing says that when it announced the last 78 delay in January, it stated that first deliveries would move from 2008 to early 2009 and committed “to conducting a more thorough and far-reaching assessment related to a robust delivery schedule”.

The airframer says that the “assessment is ongoing and we have committed to communicating the results to our customers around the end of the first quarter”.

It adds that “our team is working hard toward achieving the near-term milestones as we have identified them”.