Boeing turns on 787 Dreamliner
NEW YORK, June 20 (Reuters) – Boeing Co on Friday completed the process of switching power onto a 787 Dreamliner more than a year after it was originally scheduled, the first public milestone the company has achieved on the troubled program.
The lightweight carbon-composite plane has been delayed three times by production setbacks, putting it at least 15 months behind schedule. Some customers have been told they will have to wait two years longer for their planes.
Boeing shares fell 71 cents to $76.24 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock is down about 29 percent from its all time high last July, largely on concerns about the 787.
The new airplane, which promises to cut fuel costs by 20 percent, has racked up 896 orders worth about $150 billion at list prices. But Boeing has found it harder than expected to put together the plane using its far-flung network of suppliers.
The delays mirror problems that rival Airbus, a unit of Europe’s EADS, had in producing its A380 superjumbo, which ended up two years late.
Boeing has been working on the 787 program since April 2004, and is now in the final stages of producing the first batch of planes to be used for static and flight testing.
The process, known in the aerospace industry as “power on,” is a series of tasks and tests that brings electrical power to the airplane and starts the electrical systems working.
It is a crucial moment in the development of the plane as it gives Boeing an idea of how the plane’s systems work together and what problems might need to be addressed.
With the power-on tests complete, Boeing confirmed that it was aiming for the first test flight of the plane in the fourth quarter of this year. The plane maker has put back the first test flight target date several times. It was originally planned for last summer.
First deliveries of the 787, to Japan’s All Nippon Airways , are scheduled for the third quarter of next year. The original target date for first delivery was May 2008.