Boeing confirms 787 first flight pushed back to 2Q 2009

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Boeing today confirmed a further six-month delay for the 787 programme, blaming the 57-day strike by machinists and an unexpected requirement to replace thousands of fasteners.

The new schedule moves first flight from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2009. The first delivery to launch customer All Nippon Airways shifts from the third quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010.

Counting previous delays, the programme is now running nearly two years behind schedule.

"We will overcome this set of circumstances as we have others in the past, and we understand clearly what needs to be done moving forward," said Pat Shanahan, Boeing's VP for the 787 programme.

First flight preparations include finalizing and incorporating engineering changes and completing systems testing, qualifications and certification.

Boeing is continuing to evaluate how the delay will impact the long-awaited production ramp-up for the 787 and new delivery dates for customers.

The financial impact of the delay is also still under review, Boeing said, and will be released "at a later date".

Last month, Boeing acknowledged discovering that it needed to replace thousands of fasteners on each 787 currently in production because of a quality assurance breakdown.

That admission came immediately after about 27,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) returned from a 57-day strike.

Both events conspired to ruin the 787 programme's comeback from a system-wide production breakdown that caused a previous delay of 18 months.