Cargolux has informed Boeing it will not take delivery of its first 747-8 freighter on Monday as planned, due to a contractual tussle, the airframer confirms.

The Luxembourg-based freight operator is due to receive its first of 13 General Electric GEnx-powered 747-8Fs during the high-profile ceremony at Boeing's Everett plant near Seattle on 19 September. However, Flightglobal has learnt from well-placed industry sources that, in a last minute wrangle over "unresolved issues", Cargolux is withdrawing its personnel from Boeing's plant and has informed the airframer that it will not accept delivery of the aircraft. The airline had been due to take its second 747-8F two days later, on 21 September.

Boeing originally planned to deliver the first 747-8F two years ago, but a series of delays have hampered the programme, including a longer than expected flight test effort and supply chain issues. Development has been blighted by a performance shortfall due to engine and weight issues which has riled customers.

Boeing declined to comment on the nature of the contractual dispute.

To address the 747-8F's performance deficit, Boeing and GE have been working on a series of performance improvement packages which they plan to progressivey incorporate into the aircraft. The Cargolux row is understood to centre on the 747-8F's non-compliance with contractual guarantees, suggesting that it is connected in some way to the performance issues.

For the GEnx-2B67 engines that exclusively power the 747-8, GE and Being are developing its Performance Improvement Package 2 (PIP2) which features aerodynamic improvements to the high pressure compressor (HPC), which has been in ground-testing since December 2010.

Earlier this year GE expected to flight-test the changes in the second half of 2011. Certification of these changes is likely in the first quarter of 2012, followed by entry into service in late 2012, says GE.

Further, Boeing is currently developing a package of improvements for the 747-8 including a 2012 update to the flight management computer for precision approach, required navigation performance (RNP) .1 and quiet climb features.

Additional reporting by Jon Ostrower

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news