Boeing has begun final assembly of the first production 787 ahead of first delivery early next year to launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA).

Boeing says in a statement last night that final assembly has started on the first of at least 50 787s being acquired by ANA. It says deliveries are still on schedule to begin the first quarter of 2010.

ANA CEO Shinichiro Ito calls the start of final assembly a historic milestone.

"As the launch customer, we are delighted and excited to see the achievement of this milestone and to have worked closely together to reach this day," Ito says. "We look forward to the start of the 787 flight test programme and delivery into our fleet next year."

Boeing is scheduled to begin flight testing by the end of this month. ANA, which was originally slated to receive the first 787 in May 2008, is now planning to take the first aircraft in February 2010.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news