Boeing Wants 787 Program Suppliers to Delay Part Deliveries

Ongoing investigation of electrical fire leads to change in assembly program

Boeing Co. plans a new delay for its long-anticipated 787 wide-body jet. The 16-day schedule change involves the assembly dates for some segments of the jet, and is the result of Boeing’s continuing investigation into the cause of a electrical fire aboard the aircraft during a test flight in November.

The 787 “Dreamliner” is a wide-body twin-engine aircraft, with long range and carrying capacity for 210 to 330 passengers. Boeing has said it will be its most fuel-efficient commercial jet.

However, the Dreamliner program is more than a three years behind its original schedule, with six separate delays in the expected delivery date. Boeing reportedly has 850 orders from airliners for the jets, and earlier this year the first deliveries were delayed again, to the first quarter of 2011. Among the reasons for delays have been design issues, parts shortages, and labor problems.

The new delay involves an adjustment in the assembly dates for the jets’ wings, fuselage and other major sections. Boeing has said it is assessing the entire 787 program schedule to resolve the issues that resulted in the fire and emergency landing in Laredo, Tex., last month. Boeing has said a complete, revised program schedule will be ready within weeks.

“We continue to make temporary schedule adjustments as needed to ensure the entire production system flows as designed and to minimize adverse impacts to final assembly,” said Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber said. “That’s a process we began using earlier this year and will continue to use as needed going forward.”

As such, some 787 component and system suppliers are being instructed to adjust their delivery schedules.

The Boeing spokesman explained that the change would not affect the current schedule for the initial deliveries of the 787. Those jets still are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2011.

“Rather than pass along out-of-sequence work to our final-assembly factory, we’ve asked those partners to take some additional time to complete the work at their facilities,” according to Lefeber. “The suppliers weren’t asked to stop production.”

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