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Supplier problems lead to more frustrations for the Dreamliner program

Boeing is still having troubles with its famed 787 Dreamliner. The company announced yesterday that it is delaying the first flight of its Dreamliner by three months.

Boeing's next-generation airliner, which makes use of advanced, lightweight materials and extremely efficient engines, is the fastest selling aircraft in Boeing history with the company securing 817 orders from 53 different customers.

The bulk of the delays are blamed on suppliers who continue to work behind schedule stalling the production of the initial Dreamliner prototype according to the Wall Street Journal. Boeing decided to outsource the production of many critical Dreamliner components to companies scattered across the globe in an effort to reduce costs and promote foreign sales.

The decision is now coming back to sting Boeing as a lack of synergy between suppliers is the root cause for the program delays. According to sources close to the Dreamliner program, wiring and cockpit instrumentation hasn't even been installed into the first Dreamliner being readied for flight testing.

Boeing was more diplomatic when describing the supplier issues, "The fundamental design and technologies of the 787 remain sound," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO and president Scott Carson. "However, we continue to be challenged by start-up issues in our factory and in our extended global supply-chain."

Since aircraft engineers need at least two to three months of electrical testing before giving the go ahead to perform test flights, the Dreamliner will not take off until the end of the second quarter according to Boeing. Deliveries of the first production Dreamliner aircraft were also pushed back from late 2008 to early 2009.

"We have brought together the right skills and leadership from around the company to ensure a successful start-up of our global production system," added Dreamliner Vice President and General Manager Pat Shanahan. "We have put the people, structure and processes in place to execute our plan and we will take additional steps to strengthen our team if needed. We have made significant progress in reducing parts shortages, improving fastener availability and achieving static and systems test milestones. We are focused on getting the 787 flying, certified and delivered to our customers."

"This airplane is going to be the basis of every airplane Boeing builds in the future, so it needs to be right," said International Lease Finance Corp. CEO John Plueger. Plueger's leasing company ordered 74 Dreamliners from Boeing making it the single largest customer.

Boeing announced delays to the Dreamliner program in early October 2007 after initially denying the reports. Boeing's revised target for the first flight of the aircraft was changed to Q1 2008 and the first deliveries were changed to November 2008 at the earliest.

The Dreamliner was recently in the news over a damning report from Wired Magazine which claimed that the Dreamliner was vulnerable to attacks from passengers using the wired networking capabilities of the plane. A Boeing engineer and a spokeswoman for the company were quick to dismiss the report.



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The delay game
By eilersr on 1/17/2008 3:45:09 PM , Rating: 3
Their biggest competitor has fallen behind with the launch of their latest quad-engine jumbo jet, so now Boeing can think it can just sit back and rake in the profits on last generation jets until they get some real competition. Come on Boeing...give me my jet!

Okay, a poor attempt at humor...but I couldn't help drawing a corollary to the statements made by some people in those other well publicized DT posts when reacting to announced product delays.

Seriously, though, I hope Boeing and Airbus both get volume production on their new flagships rolling soon.




RE: The delay game
By Zoomer on 1/17/2008 4:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, the jet market doesn't work that way. It's not like you can go down to your friendly local Boeing dealer and fly off with the newest 787, or the still great 777-200LR.


RE: The delay game
By eilersr on 1/17/2008 6:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I know it doesn't. Two very different industries.

I was more poking fun at the fanboys in the CPU threads than trying to draw any real conclusions.

Thanks for setting the record straight, in any event :)


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