Boeing has announced a six-month delay in its planned initial deliveries of the 787 citing “continued challenges completing assembly of the first airplanes”.

Deliveries are now slated to begin in late November or December 2008, versus an original target of May 2008. All Nippon Airways is the launch customer for the twinjet.

First flight is now anticipated around the end of first quarter, says the manufacturer in a statement.

The company says the financial impact of the delay will not be material to earnings and that its earnings guidance for 2007 and 2008 remained unchanged.

“We are disappointed over the schedule changes that we are announcing today” says Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney. “Notwithstanding the challenges that we are experiencing in bringing forward this game-changing product, we remain confident in the design of the 787, and in the fundamental innovation and technologies that underpin it.”

Early last month, Boeing announced a delay in the planned first flight of the 787, citing ongoing challenges with out-of-sequence production work, including parts shortages, and remaining software and systems integration activities.

“The newly revised schedule for first flight and first delivery addresses the production challenges and restores margin for the program to deal with issues that may be uncovered in final ground or flight testing,” says Boeing, adding that flight control software and systems integration activities “are not pacing items in the revised schedule for first flight”.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson says the company deeply regrets the impact these delays will have on customers, and that the airframer is “committed to working with them to minimize any disruption to their plans”.