BOEING IS confident that it can deliver the first General Electric GE90-powered 777 to British Airways on schedule, on 28 September, despite the grounding of a flight-test aircraft for compressor-blade repairs.

Certification flight-testing continues with the first GE90-powered 777, and ground runs have begun on the first production aircraft for BA. The airline says that it is still hoping to put the aircraft into service by "early October" as planned.

The second GE90-powered 777, WA077, was grounded on 18 August for on-wing repairs to compressor-blade damage caused on 11 August when a small piece of a first-stage blade broke off after repeated hard rubbing with the compressor case. Blade damage is being removed, by blending and first-stage tip clearance increased. The aircraft is expected to be returned to flight status shortly, both manufacturers say.

The first GE90-powered 777, WA076, is not affected because its engines have greater tip clearances. Neither is the first BA aircraft, which has production GE90s incorporating increased tip clearances. Boeing says the WA076 is being used for the bulk of the flight testing required for certification, which is scheduled for a week before hand-over of the first aircraft to BA.

ETOPS certification of the GE90-powered 777 is not scheduled until mid-December. BA says that there is no hard date to begin ETOPS flights but expects to commence "early in the new year".

Source: Flight International