Boeing Co. has delayed the first scheduled delivery of its new 747-8 Freighter until mid 2011, and will add a fifth airplane to the flight-test fleet in order to support the new schedule. The delay was not unexpected, as Boeing had recently issued a warning of a schedule change, but the 747-8 freighter is already a year behind its original production schedule.
The change in schedule is reminiscent of the ongoing delays in the delivery of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, the twin-engine passenger jet which has had its delivery postponed six times. The Boeing 747-8 is a wide-body commercial airliner that is commonly used as a freight jet. Some reports indicate more than half of the world’s air freight is transported in 747-8s.
The new delivery schedule was set after Boeing made certain discoveries during recent test flights, including a low-frequency vibration in certain flight conditions and an underperforming aileron actuator. Boeing said neither issue requires structural design changes, but they have disrupted certification testing that necessarily disrupted the delivery schedule.
Boeing said the new delivery schedule follows “a thorough assessment of the expected cumulative impact of these discoveries.”
"We understand the issues encountered in flight test and are working through the solutions," stated Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Airplane Programs. "We recognize our customers are eager to add the 747-8 Freighter to their fleets, and we understand and regret any impact this schedule change may have on their plans to begin service with the airplane. With that said, the 747-8 Freighter is demonstrating the capabilities our customers need to be successful and we are confident in the value it will bring them upon certification and delivery next year."