Boeing to shuffle 787 deliveries in Sept. but meet goals

The Boeing Co. will shuffle deliveries of 787 components into Everett in September but says the company will deliver the promised number of jets in 2010 and 2011.

Similar to the company’s decision earlier this year to halt 787 parts shipments into Everett, Boeing says it is adjusting the schedule to allow its partners to send higher quality, more complete structures.

Boeing’s 787 jet program is more than two years behind schedule. The company aims to deliver the first 787 to Japan’s All Nippon Airways by year’s end.

While Boeing will deliver the expected number of 787s in 2010 and 2011, program manager Scott Fancher was less clear whether the 787s will be delivered when the customers requested.

“I don’t think we’re going to be disappointing anyone with our deliveries … but there are always subtleties that we have to work out with our customers,” he said.

Boeing’s disclosure about the 787 deliveries on Friday comes a day after Boeing acknowledged a workmanship issue on the 787’s horizontal stabilizer, supplied by Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica.

Boeing halted flights of its five flight test 787s until the airplanes can be inspected. Workers in Everett found some stabilizers have improperly installed shims, resulting in gaps that are above what the specifications allow. They also found fasteners with too much torque.

Fancher said that Boeing’s decision not to fly its test planes was not a “safety of flight” issue. Inspections take about a day to complete and rework will take up to eight days if needed.

The company is also inspecting its planes in production. Altogether, Boeing has 25 horizontal stabilizers to inspect.

Three of the five test planes already were planned to be on the ground as crews modified the aircraft to perform new flight tests. Boeing can inspect, and if necessary rework, those three aircraft as the ground preparations for flight testing continue, Fancher said.

Two test aircraft were expected to fly shortly. Fancher did not say whether Boeing would rework those aircraft if a problem is detected before flying them again.

“We’ve got a solid plan in place and we’ll resolve these issues,” he said.

Fancher expressed confidence in Alenia although this is the second time the company has experienced a workmanship issue.

“Alenia is a partner of ours and a very capable partner,” Fancher said.

Boeing first learned about the shim gap problem last week but began reviewing the fastener problem yesterday, when it decided to stop flying 787s until inspections could be conducted.

Boeing has more than 850 787s on order.

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