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Dreamliner wings take off

The first Boeing 787 wings will be flown from Nagoya, Japan to Everett in the USA in a "few weeks", with the US airframe manufacturer insisting the production schedule for the fastest-selling aircraft in history is on track. The Dreamliner is to be unveiled on 8 July and the first flight is due a few weeks later. Delivery of the first 787 is scheduled for mid-2008 to launch customer All Nippon Airways.

Boeing and its Japanese partners remain confident the 787 will be delivered on time. "We're at the final stage of completing the first wings," says Takashi Fujimoto, head of 787 production at Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Employees at MHI's plant in Nagoya are conducting final checks on the mainly composite wings, which are being shaped in a specially designed 40m (130ft) autoclave. Around mid-May, the wings will make the 10h journey to Everett on the Boeing LCF Dreamlifter.

The three Japanese majors, MHI, Fuji Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries , collectively account for 35% of the 787 structure. The first forward fuselages and main landing gear wells, which Kawasaki produces, and the centre wing box, which Fuji produces, were delivered earlier in 2007.

Speaking at the Aviation Club in London last week, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Scott Carson dismissed suggestions that hitches in the 787's complex global supply chain will derail its August first flight, insisting suppliers are "putting start-up issues rapidly behind them. Our suppliers in Japan, Italy and the USA - Spirit AeroSystems and Vought - are seeing phenomenal quality. I've not seen this so early in a programme," he added.

Additional reporting by Murdo Morrison




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