Boeing has announced that the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner is expected by the end of 2009 and the first delivery is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2010.
According to Boeing, the new schedule reflects the previously announced need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft, along with the addition of several weeks of schedule margin to reduce flight test and certification risk. The company projects achieving a production rate of 10 aircraft per month in late 2013.
‘The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete and the team is preparing aeroplanes for modification and testing,’ said Jim McNerney, Boeing’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.
The 787 team working on the side-of-body reinforcement has completed initial testing and is finalising design details of new fittings that are expected to ensure full structural integrity of the joint.
The static test procedure that uncovered the issue will be repeated and the results analysed before the first flight is conducted. In addition, fatigue testing will be performed on stringer components to validate the long-term durability of the modification.
The first 787 test aircraft and static test unit have been prepared for the new fittings and installation is expected to begin within the next few weeks.
In view of this latest announcement, Boeing has concluded that the initial flight-test aircraft have no commercial market value beyond the development effort because of the inordinate amount of rework and unique and extensive modifications made to those aircraft.
Costs previously recorded for the first three flight-test aircraft will be reclassified from programme inventory to research-and-development expense, resulting in an estimated non-cash charge of $2.5bn (£1.5bn) pre-tax, or $2.21 per share, against third-quarter results.
Currently, the 787 Dreamliner has 865 orders from 56 airlines.