Tomorrow, Boeing executives will update the media and financial community on the progress of the 787 and the news is not likely to be good.
Aerospace blogger James Wallace of the Seattle Post Intelligencer is reporting a delay of six months, which was circulating three weeks ago when Boeing said it was rectifying structural issues in the wing box. Then on March 28 Boeing announced it had agreed to buy Vought Aircraft Industries' subsidiary of Global Aeronautica LLC, which makes part of the 787 fuselage in North Charleston, SC.
That suggested Boeing needed to take more control of fuselage assembly in its far-flung scheme to have the plane 70-percent made by 40 outside tier-one suppliers. Wallace today reported suppliers are the biggest cause of delays and Vought especially has fallen behind in its schedule. Other delays that appear to not be as serious were a fastener shortage and under-estimating software development for the avionics.
Three weeks ago, it was widely reported that Steven Udvar-Hazy, founder and chairman of International Lease and Finance Corp., made public comments that he expects Boeing to tack on another six-month delay in certification and delivery to Q3. ILFC is Boeing’s biggest announced 787 customer.
Wallace also noted in his blog post and story today if the rumored six-month delay becomes reality, the 787 will have slipped by 14 months, which would make it comparably late to the “Super Jumbo” Airbus A380. Perhaps 787 Chief Project Engineer and Design News 2007 Engineer of the Year Tom Cogan saw this coming a year ago.
When asked in April 2007 if he took satisfaction in what seemed the imminent first flight of the 787 scheduled four months hence, he was very measured in his response.
“Airbus is a world class manufacturer of commercial jets and they are having their struggles just as we have had our challenges in the past. It’s the nature of the business and the products we design. They’ll be in this with us for many years, but we stay focused on our products and let them worry about theirs.”