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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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RE: bummer
By Cygni on 1/17/2008 5:45:04 PM , Rating: 2
This is absolutely correct. Currently, the airlines see the A350 and 787 as equivalents as shown by Qatar's orders. Delivery date is the primary factor for placing an order for one over the other. As it stands, production slots for both makers are sold out to the same month.

Any slips in the delivery schedule for the A350 or 787 will directly lead to orders of its competitor.

RE: bummer
By timmiser on 1/17/2008 6:31:50 PM , Rating: 1
That is a pretty big stretch to assume that. The A350 and 787 are just too different. Nothing competes with the 787 right now which is why it is selling so well.

RE: bummer
By Cygni on 1/17/2008 7:08:08 PM , Rating: 2
Thats completely not true. The A350XWB was (re)designed directly to compete with the 787. While the A350 has larger variants available than the 787 (for now), the A350-800 and 787-9 directly compete with one another in nearly every category. The two aircraft are hardly 'too different' to compete. They directly fight for every order!

Make no mistake, the A350 and 787 are competing. And what I stated was hardly a stretch. A quote from AviationWeek:
"In fact, Qatar Airways, also a purchaser of both, says the determining factors for them were simply slot availability and fleet renewal needs."
Just as I stated, it all comes down to slot availability. If you slip? You are going to lose orders you otherwise might have had.

RE: bummer
By ikkeman on 1/17/2008 7:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
thought the 787 and 350 do differ in many ways, they don't in their promised performance, which is the only thing the airlines care about.

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