Boeing pegs July for 787 first delivery

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With the latest iteration of its 787 schedule, Boeing aims to hand over the first aircraft to Japan's All Nippon Airways in late July, the first of 20 planned for delivery in 2011, according to several sources familiar with the new plan.

While Boeing won't confirm the late July guidance, that target remains in line with an "early summer" completion of flight test activities.

Industry officials said previously ANA had been provided a September guidance by Boeing for its first delivery following the November 2010 fire that prompted an additional six-month delay in first delivery, though the latest schedule reflects a more optimistic target for first delivery.

Boeing's official guidance reflects a third quarter target, allowing the company to deliver the first 787 anywhere from 1 July to 30 September.

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Several sources familiar with Z23, the latest 787 delivery plan, say Airplane Eight - also known as ZA101 - the second production 787, will be the first 787 delivered and will feature a two-class medium to short-haul configuration for the Japanese carrier.

ANA will receive its first long-range configured 787, Airplane 24, in August, which will feature an increased maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 227,930kg (502,500lbs) for recovered payload range performance. All aircraft after line number 20 have the MTOW.

Airplane Seven, which was initially expected to be the first 787 delivered, along with Airplane Nine, which is now sequestered for delivery preparation, and Airplane 31 will be handed over to ANA in September, with Japan Airlines' first - Airplane 23 - to follow in October.

At the 11 March opening of its 787 change incorporation facility in San Antonio, Texas - which now hosts Airplane 23 - 787 programme vice president and general manager, Scott Fancher explained Z23 may not be the final plan. Fancher says the delivery sequence "is still evolving a bit, and that is still somewhat coupled to our detailed plans on F&R (functionality and reliability) and ETOPS (extended operations)". Once Boeing settles on its F&R and ETOPS testing, the airframer can settle on a delivery sequence, says Fancher.

Fancher adds "we are absolutely focused on getting through F&R and ETOPS before delivery", which is expected to get underway in the "next couple of months".

Nineteen aircraft will follow after the first 787 delivery in July, and ANA will be joined by Japan Airlines, Air India and China Southern in receiving 787s this year.