The American aircraft-maker Boeing will finally celebrate the first flight of its troubled 787 Dreamliner tomorrow after its flagship project was dogged by delays.
The airliner will take-off from a runway just outside Seattle, Washington state, two years after Boeing had first hoped to have it take to the air. Unless there are any last-minute hitches, the company plans a major celebration after getting the plane into the air.
The Dreamliner was first unveiled in July 2007, with Boeing claiming it was its most high-tech, fuel-efficient jet of all time. Made of 50 per cent composite materials, which are much lighter than the aluminium from which conventional jets are constructed, the 787 promises to save airlines massive sums in fuel and maintenance costs in comparison with their current fleets.
Boeing signed up early buyers for the Dreamliner but subsequently lost out to its European arch-rival Airbus as delays in getting the 787 airborne disappointed customers. A string of problems with the supply chain and quality control led to the launch being continually put back. While Boeing has 840 orders in place for the 787, more than 80 orders have been cancelled.
The Dreamliner debacle, as well as the wider global slump in the aviation industry, has caused Boeing huge problems – it lost $1.6bn in the third quarter of the year and was forced to take a $2.5bn charge on issues directly related to Dreamliner. But it insists that the plane will enventually be a profitable endeavour.