For months now, Boeing officials have said the first South Carolina-made 787 Dreamliner would be delivered to Air India in June. There have been hedges — “midyear,” “summer,” etc. — but the clear expectation has been to hand it over by the end of this month.
The plane has taken several test flights, including a round trip to Texas to be painted in Air India's colors, and must be just about ready to go.
But Boeing still hasn't announced a date. And, well, June's almost over. So what's going on?
It's not completely clear, but all indications are this delay is not Boeing's doing.
In an email last Monday, Boeing South Carolina spokeswoman Candy Eslinger hinted as much, saying, “Deliveries are driven by our customers.”
“That said, our Boeing South Carolina team is making good progress in continuing to ready the airplane for delivery,” she wrote.
That customer, Air India, has struggled financially since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007, and the situation has only deteriorated further recently.
Just as Air India was to about take the first of its 27 Dreamliners on order last month, hundreds of its pilots went on strike.
Then the Indian civil aviation minister said the government-owned carrier wouldn't take any of its 787s until Boeing agreed to compensation for the three-year delay in delivering the hyped, composite-bodied jets.
Boeing and Air India came to terms earlier this month, but the Indian government must grant final approval.
That might happen this week, according to Indian media reports, but that has been the word before.
Oh, and the pilots are still out protesting wages and working conditions, including the Dreamliner training plan.
Hopefully we'll get an update this week, but until then, go have a look at the big bird as it sits parked just off Aviation Avenue near Charleston International Airport.
It's an impressive specimen and probably won't be around much longer.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906 or email@example.com.
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