Boeing 787 Dreamliner during its official rollout  (Source: Boeing)
First test flights could begin as early as mid-November

Boeing is still going strong with its 787 "Dreamliner" program. The advanced, next-generation airliner makes use of 50 percent composite materials and is 20 percent more fuel efficient than the competing Airbus A330.

Boeing has experienced delays with its scheduled test flights, the company today said that the delays -- due to parts shortages and software programming issues -- won't affect deliveries which will being in May of next year.

"It is still our objective to meet that May 2008 delivery but in doing that we have had to compress our flight-test schedule," remarked Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President for Marketing Randy Tinseth.

Many had suspected that the delayed test flights, which are now scheduled to begin between mid-November and mid-December, would push back initial deliveries of the Dreamliner. Boeing, however, is confident that it can complete the mandatory 1,300 hours of in-flight testing and 3,700 of ground testing for full certification before the first deliveries.

"It is an aggressive schedule but we believe we can do it," Tinseth continued.

Photos of the first Dreamliner leaked onto the web in late June. An eager beaver aviation enthusiast was able to snap pictures of the unpainted plane fresh off the assembly line.

Two weeks later, the freshly-painted Dreamliner was rolled out to a crowd of 15,000 people and was viewed by an additional 30,000 people via a two-way satellite feed. As many as 100 million people were able to view the rollout via the Internet.

All Nippon Airways will receive the first batch of Dreamliners. The Japanese airliner has 30 787-3 and 20 787-8 aircraft on order with the option to purchase an additional 50 planes.

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