After several delays, from striking workers to problems with fasteners, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is expected to take flight for the first time by the end of June, according to a Boeing spokeswoman.
"The plan is to fly this quarter," says spokeswoman Mary Hanson. "As we get closer and closer to the actual time, we'll start narrowing the window."
Boeing designated six Dreamliners for flight testing, the last of which began undergoing final assembly, down to its paint job, late last month. The planes will fly from Everett, WA, home of the company's factory.
Fastener problems have plagued the project for months, the latest occurring in December, when a pressurization test on a Dreamliner fuselage revealed a gap under the heads of thousands of fasteners. The problem, which led Boeing to replace about 8,000 fasteners on 12 planes, occurred on the floor grid and other structures installed inside the fuselage where titanium was fastened to carbon fiber composite. Earlier in the project, the company reported a shortage of fasteners and some fastener pins that were the incorrect length.
In November, Design News reported defective nut plates were installed in the company's 737s. Nut plates are used to fasten wires and other parts to the inside of the fuselage. At the time, Boeing Spokeswoman Vicki Ray said, "We're replacing them as we find them."
Despite the numerous setbacks, however, Hanson says the plan is for the 787 Dreamliner to make its maiden voyage before July 1. "We're on track to meet the plan," she says.