Boeing has confirmed that first flight of the 717-200, to be rolled out at Long Beach on 10 June, will now take place in early September, some three months later than originally scheduled.

The flight test delays are also expected to have knock-on effects to the planned delivery of the first aircraft to launch customer AirTran, which was slated for June 1999. "We are working to have the aircraft completed and certificated as early as possible next summer," says Boeing, "- but it could be as late as September", it admits.

The delays have been caused by problems with the BMW Rolls-Royce BR715 powerplant which suffered third stage compressor cracking in altitude chamber tests earlier this year. Although a fix has been found, the changes require that several major tests need repeating.

BMW R-R claims, however, that all flight-critical engine testing will have been completed by the end of June, and that the engine remains on target for certification to go ahead in September. "Boeing just wants to make sure that it is fully happy with the state of affairs. It's their decision," says the engine manufacturer.

Before the delay, the three aircraft in the 717 test fleet were expected to complete the programme with the aim of achieving simultaneous US and European certification in June 1999.

Source: Flight International