Some very disgruntled airlines aired their frustration last week over the latest delays to Boeing's Dreamliner. While early customers for new airliners are getting used to development delays, it is the way the 787 crisis has unravelled that is the most incomprehensible.

A month before the first 787 should have been delivered to launch customer All Nippon Airways, it turns out the aircraft is not even close to first flight. Deliveries will be over a year late and the production ramp-up plan will be slowed, meaning that even now Boeing can't tell its customers how the delivery schedule will be impacted.

While it is almost unbelievable that the programme could have got so out of shape without the airframer understanding the full depth of the problem, the alternative view is even more incredible: that Boeing has been sitting on this ticking timebomb, hoping that somehow a "silver bullet" solution was just around the corner.

In Dubai last November, Boeing Commercial Airplanes boss Scott Carson gave the impression that the programme was back under control, defiantly rebutting questions about whether first deliveries in 2010 to its new customer Qatar Airways could slip. Speaking last week about the programme's latest "schedule deterioration", his air was less confident: "My bosses keep telling me not to confuse effort with results," he said.

Given the fall-out at Airbus following the A380 debacle, Boeing's top management know they have used up all their nine lives. The rebuilding of the world's oldest airliner builder's credibility must start NOW.

Source: Flight International