Comment: Champagne on ice tastes all the sweeter

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You might wonder what Boeing has to do to catch a break. Just as its 787 widebody finally rolls toward commercial service, the high-power beams lighting up Everett turn out not to be theatrical spotlights, but ­rather the headlamps of an oncoming express that ­carried a late delivery of trouble.

The timing of "Freightergate" - or the shenanigans surrounding the delivery of the initial 747-8Fs - is without doubt extraordinary. Boeing must have been unpacking a job-lot of Luxembourg-flavoured bunting and polishing the knife to cut the cake when the telex from Cargolux arrived to call the party off.

"Big airplanes are the hardest," wrote Randy Baseler, then head of Boeing commercial marketing, in a blog post five years ago. This was an expression of sympathy for Airbus - which was struggling to free itself from the A380 production quagmire - but it was left in no doubt that the comment was directed inwardly, as much as towards Toulouse.

787 water cannon, boeing
 © Boeing

This is why it would be a shame to focus attention solely on the 747's clattering into the last hurdle, just as the 787 is sailing over its own. After all, the 787 is not just a "big airplane" - it is one which demanded a whole new way of building them.

Achievement of a huge ambition, even if it took ­longer than expected, deserves recognition. Pop the cork, Boeing, you have earned it.