Five Dreamliners now grace Boeing South Carolina flight line
Boeing South Carolina has rolled out its third 787 Dreamliner.
That jet emerged from the North Charleston final assembly plant on Sunday night, a person familiar with the move said, and now sits parked on the local campus flight line next to four other finished or nearly finished Dreamliners.
All are slated for eventual delivery to Air India.
In an email statement, A Boeing spokeswoman declined to confirm the plane movement.
“Boeing does not provide details about the status of airplanes before delivery, including rollout, test or delivery plans,” wrote Candy Eslinger. “We only provided that much detail on our first airplane since it was a milestone airplane for our facility.”
Eslinger issued the same statement Thursday after another unpainted plane appeared on the flight line. That was the second S.C.-built 787, which had suffered an engine failure on a pre-flight taxi test on July 28 and had to go back inside the final assembly building, according to a Boeing source.
While the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation into why that particular GEnx-IB engine’s drive shaft fractured, the affected plane was fitted with a new engine.
The other three 787s on the flight line — Boeing South Carolina’s first plane and two Dreamliners made in Everett, Wash., and flown here last month — are fully painted and ready for pick-up.
When Air India will begin taking the fuel-efficient, composite-fuselage planes it ordered in 2005 is still unclear.
Technical issues and supply chain hiccups led to more than three years of delivery delays. Negotiations over what Boeing owed Air India to compensate for those delays ensued and continued for months before the airframer and airline came to an agreement in June.
But Air India is owned by the Indian government, and it wasn’t until August 3 that the government finally approved the undisclosed compensation package.
That day, Boeing’s top salesman for India suggested a definitive delivery schedule would soon follow, but that hasn’t happened. Instead, Air India has issued a request for more financing, and rumors about an imminent first delivery, fueled in part by a Wednesday evening test flight of one of the Everett-made 787s, have not yet materialized.
A Seattle-area Boeing spokesman said Monday that delivery discussions with Air India are ongoing.
Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines last week became the third — and first non-Japanese — airline to add a Dreamliner to its fleet, claiming a distinction that was supposed to belong to Air India.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 and follow him on Twitter at @kearney_brendan.