Lateness isn't the only significant production problem facing Boeing's Dreamliner 787.
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 nautical miles.
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.