Rolls-Royce engine delay stalls 787 delivery

Boeing admitted yesterday that the delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner aircraft had been pushed back again until next year because of a delay in the delivery of Rolls-Royce engines for test flights.

The US manufacturer's flagship project to build a carbon-composite, super-fuel-efficient jetliner is already two years behind schedule. Last month, it said the cumulative impact of a string of problems, including "supplier workmanship issues related to the horizontal stabiliser and instrumentation delays", could delay the delivery of the first 787s until the first weeks of January.

Yesterday, it said that after assessing the availability of engines needed for the final phases of flight-testing, it was pushing back delivery until the middle of the first quarter of 2011. It added: "While Boeing continues to work closely with Rolls-Royce to expedite engine availability, flight testing across the test fleet continues as planned."

All Nippon Airways of Japan, which had hoped to take delivery of the first 787 on 31 December, described the sixth delay in the production of the aircraft as "regrettable". Boeing has orders for 847 Dreamliners on its books, each costing between $150m and $205.5m.

Miles Walton, an analyst at Deutsche Bank in New York, told the Bloomberg news agency that late penalties payable by Boeing to 787 customers may have already reached $5bn.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: "We have been informed by Boeing that the currently planned dates for Trent 1000 engine deliveries will not support their latest flight test programme requirements."

Rolls-Royce said the engine availability issue was unrelated to the blowout of a similar $17m Trent 1000 engine at a test site in Derby earlier this month, which caused the facility to shut for repairs. It is due to reopen shortly.