Boeing again postpones Dreamliner delivery

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being made of composite materials that make the aircraft lighter and more fuel-efficient than any comparable jetliners in service today.

NEW YORK -- Boeing Co. postponed the delivery of its first 787 airliner to the middle of the first quarter of 2011, adding to a string of delays that has put it more than two years past its originally scheduled debut.

The latest delay is the result of engine delivery problems, Boeing said in a statement Friday. The company said in July that it expected to start delivering the plane late this year, but it warned that that might not happen.

Boeing said then that a series of problems, including supplier work related to parts of the tail and instrument issues, might push the first delivery "a few weeks into 2011."

The delay isn't expected to push back the July 2011 opening date for Boeing's second 787 final assembly plant, which is under construction at Charleston International Airport.

Workers still are piecing together the steel frame for the 1.2 million-square-foot building, which will be the size of roughly 12 football fields. The $750 million project is expected to create nearly 4,000 local jobs.

Boeing plans to produce three 787s a month in North Charleston and seven Dreamliners a month at its plant in Everett Wash.

The company's local spokeswoman, Candy Eslinger, added that Friday's announcement does not alter the production schedule at the Boeing's two existing 787 fuselage plants at Charleston International.

The original delivery date for the new plane was May 2008.

The 787's first customer, Japan's All Nippon Airways, said in a statement that the delay is regrettable, especially "given the success of the flight test program so far."

"However, we trust that the time will be used to deliver the best possible aircraft in the shortest possible time frame," a Nippon spokesman said. The airline is scheduled to get 50 of the planes over the next six years.

The 787 is made of many composite materials designed to make it lighter and more fuel-efficient than comparable planes already in the sky.

Despite delays, the 787 remains Boeing's best-selling new plane, with 847 orders from 55 customers.

It lists for $150 million to $205.5 million, depending on the model, although major customers routinely get discounts.

Boeing said the delay won't affect its financial outlook, and its shares rose $1.84, or 3 percent, to $63.16, on Friday.

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Boeing spokeswoman Yvonne Leach said the company is working closely with British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce to expedite engine deliveries, but current flight tests are continuing as planned.

Rolls-Royce said the delay was not related to the reported failure of an engine for the 787 in a recent test.

"We have been informed by Boeing that the currently planned dates for Trent 1000 engine deliveries will not support their latest flight-test-program requirements," Rolls-Royce said in a statement Friday.

The FlightGlobal website, an aviation news site, reported this week that a Trent 1000 engine suffered an "uncontained" failure, with debris breaking through the engine casing, during a test on Aug. 2.

Rolls-Royce will make about half the engines for the 787s, General Electric the rest.

GE spokeswoman Deb Case said the flight testing with GE's engines continues as planned.

Katy Stech of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.