Boeing readies another 787 for tests

EVERETT — The Boeing Co. has finished modifications on two more 787s as the company races to put the Dreamliner in the air by year’s end.

Over the weekend, workers in Everett finished reinforcing a structural weakness on the static test aircraft and the second 787 flight test airplane, Boeing said Monday. The company completed modifications to the first flight test aircraft last week.

“Our focus now is on completing the static test later this month, which will validate the modification,” said Scott Fancher, vice general manager of the 787 program, in a statement. “Concurrently we are restoring the airplanes and completing the functional tests required to fly by the end of the year.”

Shortly before the jet was supposed to make its first flight in June, Boeing discovered a weakness in the area where the 787’s wings and body join. The company then postponed the Dreamliner’s first flight for the fifth time. Problems with Boeing’s global supply chain and with production had caused the previous delays.

To solve the problem, Boeing workers in Everett have been installing new fittings at 34 stringer locations within the joint where the wing is attached to the fuselage. The company needs to modify all its test airplanes before the jets can be put in the air. Boeing has six 787 flight aircraft.

Boeing officials say the first 787 will fly before Jan. 1. Before the first 787 can fly, its access doors, seals and fasteners that were removed during the modification process have to be restored. Boeing also will have to put the first 787 through some final ground tests, including high-speed taxiing.

The company plans to deliver the first Dreamliner in the fourth quarter of 2010, more than two years late. Boeing has 850 orders for its fuel-efficient 787.

Boeing’s stock closed Monday at $52.48, up 3.55 percent.

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