LAN set to take early 787 slots

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Santiago-based carrier LAN is set to make a major acceleration in its delivery of its first Boeing 787 after a slot swap with Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA), say sources close to the Latin American carrier and the US airframer.

Two delivery slots from the early batch of aircraft scheduled for delivery in late 2010 and early 2011 have been reallocated from ANA to LAN, the same sources tell ATI.

According to a source at the airline, the first 787-8s were intended for delivery to LAN in 2015 after accumulating more than two years of delays.

LAN declined to discuss the change, as "there exists a confidentiality agreement with Boeing. The company will inform about this issue if and when it is appropriate".

Boeing also declined to discuss the shift as a matter of policy to not comment publicly on delivery schedules, saying that "occasionally we and our customers make order adjustments that better support their overall fleet needs, while allowing us to successfully manage our production plan".

Programme sources add that the 10th and 16th aircraft built will now be delivered to LAN. ANA assumed ownership of several early delivery slots after five Chinese carriers deferred their orders in early 2009.

LAN, which selected Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, first announced in July 2007 its intent to purchase 26 787s and lease six more, marking the largest 787 order from a Latin American carrier.

The order included 18 787-8s and 8 787-9s and an additional lease of 6 787-9 aircraft from ILFC.

The 787-9s leased from ILFC were initially intended to be the carrier's first aircraft to replace Airbus A340-300s on long-range routes. The first 787-9s were supposed to be delivered in 2011, the same year as entry into service of the type.

After two years of delays, the 787-9 will now enter service with launch customer Air New Zealand in late 2013.

As part of its contingency plan for the 787 delays, LAN purchased an additional four 767-300ER aircraft in November 2008 from Boeing and was seeking a fifth, while installing winglets on its 767 fleet to improve performance.

Airplane 7, the first production 787, is set to be delivered to ANA in the fourth quarter of 2010 following a planned 8.5 month certification campaign which began in December 2009 with the aircraft's maiden flight.

While the early batch of 787s are believed to be over target weight, which will impact performance, the company has already begun incorporating weight saving techniques into early airframes.

Programme sources say weight savings on early aircraft, Airplanes 7 through 19, have focused on the wing skins.

Starting with Airplane 20, Boeing will introduce a higher MTOW of 227,900kg (502,000lb) - up 8,400kg from the initially planned 219,500kg - to "help us to meet the expectations of our customers".

Airplane 10, which entered final assembly in September 2009 is currently in the paint hangar at Boeing's Everett, Washington facility, while the forward fuselage and wings for Airplane 16 have arrived from Kansas and Japan, respectively.