Boeing ships first 787-9 horizontal stabiliser

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Boeing has shipped the first horizontal stabiliser for the stretched 787-9 variant to the final assembly plant in Everett, Washington, three weeks early, the company says.

Pictures released by Boeing shows Boeing employees loading the port (left)-side horizontal stabiliser into a final assembly tool.

The arrival of the component weeks before the 787-9 enters final assembly shows how the variant's modified supply chain is performing after major assembly began last August, Boeing vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth says in a blog post on Boeing's web site.

"This is the kind of performance we're seeing across the entire 787-9 supply chain," Tinseth writes.

Boeing outsourced the assembly of the horizontal stabiliser to Alenia Aeronautica for the 787-8, but it suffered from manufacturing quality problems that caused the entire programme to halt production in mid-2010.

Boeing decided the following year to bring assembly of the horizontal stabiliser for the 787-9 within the company. The first stabiliser was assembled at the Seattle Development Centre, and shipped to Boeing's Salt Lake City facility for painting last December. In series production, assembly of the horizontal stabiliser will transfer from Seattle to Salt Lake City, where Boeing is opening a new factory.

The 787-9 is on track to enter final assembly at mid-year, fly by the end of 2013 and enter service with Air New Zealand in early 2014, Tinseth says. The 290-seat aircraft is expected to achieve a range between 8,000-8,5000nm (14,816-15,742km).