Boeing has received two key sections of the fourth 787 airframe at the final assembly centre in Everett, Washington, after a roughly five-week delay, FlightBlogger reports.

The arrival of both major components – the Spirit AeroSystems’ nose and Global Aeronautica centre fuselage – allows Boeing’s machinists to begin final assembly of the fourth aircraft. When Boeing outlined its revised schedule in April, the beginning of final assembly of Dreamliner Four was identified as a significant program milestone.

This key event for the programme was originally scheduled for late June. A contractor working for Alenia Aeronautica, however, inadvertently damaged the centre fuselage. Alenia is partnered with Boeing to operate the Global Aeronautica facility in Charleston, South Carolina.

Although the centre fuselage was shipped five weeks later than planned under the latest revised schedule, the extra time in Charleston allowed Boeing’s suppliers to assemble the section more fully. The section arrived in Everett with an even greater degree of completion than previously expected, FlightBlogger reports.

Despite the five-week delay, Boeing remains confident it “will be able to accommodate the changes in schedule within the program schedule”.

Dreamliner One (July 2008)    ©FlightBlogger

Dreamliner Four is the last of four flight test aircraft to be fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. Two more flight test airframes will be powered by the General Electric GEnx-1B.

Boeing is struggling to keep the 787 on a revised schedule that includes first flight in the fourth quarter 2008 and first delivery in the third quarter of 2009.

That schedule represents the third major revision in the programme’s history, and means launch customer All Nippon Airways will receive the first operational 787 about 15 months late. The bulk of the delays have been caused by a breakdown in the supply chain, which proved ill-prepared to support Boeing’s aggressive flight test and production schedule.

FlightBlogger is publishing a full update on the current state of play for the 787 program. It's in three parts: