Lateness isn't the only significant production problem
facing Boeing's Dreamliner
The composite-bodied aircraft is overweight â as much as 8
percent according to analysts at Bernstein Research. That's significant because
the much-ballyhooed aircraft won't meet range specifications promised to
buyers, creating the potential that customer may demand discounts.
The data still listed at the 787 Web site
claims a range of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles. However, based on the Bernstein
estimate, the range would drop to around 6,900 miles as the aircraft is
currently designed and manufactured.
The difference would be critical for long haul air carriers,
such as those that fly regularly between Asia and the United States. For
example, the total distance from Chicago to Singapore is 8,144
Boeing spokesperson Loretta M. Gunter confirmed to Design
News there is a problem with the aircraft's weight. "Boeing is not
providing a specific number concerning the weight of the first airplanes. ... We are
working with our partners on a number of ways to reduce weight."
She would not specify what those specific steps might be.
Changes, once determined, will be introduced into the production schedule at
intervals that will not result in future delays, she said.
Boeing rolled out the first 787 in a non-flying ceremony on
July 8, 2007. At that time, the Dreamliner was the fastest selling wide-body
airliner in history with nearly 600 orders.
A total of 861 Dreamliners have now been ordered by 56
customers. So far this year, Boeing has reported 65 new orders and 65 canceled
orders for the Dreamliner.
The Dreamliner was originally scheduled to enter service in
May 2008 and it is currently scheduled to enter into service in February 2010.
The new design changes to reduce weight, however, are a wild card.
Boeing recently completed
the first engine runs on the 787, and is shooting for first flight soon.