Boeing delays 787 Dreamliner's inaugural flight for a third time

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The Independent Online

Boeing announced a third delay yesterday to the launch of its new 787 Dreamliner, saying the aircraft would now be ready in late 2009. The Seattle-based aerospace group blamed supply and assembly problems for the latest postponement.

When Boeing unveiled the wide-bodied jet last year it forecast a May 2008 delivery, but the $150bn (£75.9bn) project is now at least 15 months behind schedule. The company could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in cancelled orders and fines. The Dreamliner's first buyer, All Nippon Airways of Japan, said it was "extremely disappointed" it would not now receive its 787s until the third quarter of next year.

Boeing's chief executive, Scott Carson, said he was confident no other problems were lurking. "This is very disappointing news... and I want to acknowledge upfront how you must feel because of these delays," he added. "It is our actions, not our words, that will get this state-of-the-art aeroplane into the air."

The latest delay had been anticipated by the market but most analysts feared it could have been as long as two years. The relief among Boeing investors sent the company's share price up by 4.8 per cent to $78.60 in New York, following a sharp decline in recent weeks.

Following the previously announced setback of six months, the news is nonetheless bad news for airlines. Virgin Atlantic, First Choice and British Airways have all placed large 787 orders. A spokesman for BA said: "We are talking to Boeing about compensation, the implications of this delay and the options available to us."

Virgin is also negotiating with Boeing about compensation or replacement aircraft. More than 50 airlines have placed 892 orders for the jet, but it is unclear when these will delivered – because Boeing also said it was building up to full production more slowly than it had planned.

Instead of the 109 aircraft it expected to build next year, it will now build just 25. Full production is not likely until 2012, when ten 787s a month will be built.

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