The first flight of the revolutionary new 787 Dreamliner has been delayed by Boeing by at least three months and now risks missing its deadline for first delivery of the aircraft next year. The wait for the 787, which will be 50% made from composite plastics, has orders worth $116 billion (£57 billion) and is one of world’s most high-profile industrial projects.
The company said yesterday that the first flight would now take place in “the late Fall”. More specifically, mid-November/mid-December. The original plan was for a first flight at the end of August 2007, but this was moved to mid-September and then late September during the summer. To an extent this echoes the problems that Boeing’s rival Airbus on its A380 project experienced. These delays eventually amounted to two years and have cost Airbus billions of euros in lost revenues and compensation payments to customers. Boeing’s first customer for the 787 is All Nippon Airways, which is due to receive its first aircraft next May.
The delay is being blamed on difficulties with the flight systems software and also with assembly documentation. Mike Blair, Boeing’s director for the 787 programme, said: “This is a really complex puzzle and we have to be really careful how we put it together. We won’t fly the 787 until it’s ready, so we will not speculate on an exact date.” The 787 is estimated to be at least 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than existing aircraft. Composites have previously been used only on military aircraft.
Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has called for an emergency general meeting of shareholders in Aer Lingus, its Irish rival, as the feud between the carriers reached a new low. Ryanair has been blocked by the European Commission from launching a full takeover of Aer Lingus, but it continues to exert influence through its 29.4% shareholding. Ryanair wants to force Aer Lingus’s directors to reverse a decision to drop flights from Shannon on the west coast of the Irish Republic to Heathrow in favour of a new base at Belfast airport in Northern Ireland. Ryanair believe that a more efficient operation on this route can generate an extra £2.7 million profits per year.
Ryanair insists that it is acting only to protect its financial stake, which last month it confirmed had increased by 4% to 29.4%. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said: “If a 10% shareholder asks for an EGM to be held, they must hold an EGM.” Last week Aer Lingus reported that its profits in the first half of this year had fallen from €16.3 million to €6.8 million. (source: Daily Mail)