Boeing has delayed delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner aircraft yet again.
Launch customer All Nippon Airways of Japan will not now receive the first 787 until “the middle of the first quarter” of 2011, meaning the aircraft is not likely to begin commercial flying before late spring or early summer.
The aircraft has been beset by production difficulties and is now more than two years behind schedule. In a statement, Boeing announced: “The delivery date revision follows an assessment of the availability of an engine needed for the final phases of flight test this fall [autumn].”
The company warned last month that a series of delays, exacerbated by the outsourcing of components manufacture, could push delivery of the first 787 into 2011. The latest problem has extended that estimate.
Thomson Airways, the Tui Travel carrier, will be the first UK airline to fly the 787, with delivery of the first now due in 2012.
Speaking at the Farnborough Air Show in July, where the 787 made its debut appearance in the UK, Tui Travel group chief executive Peter Long argued any fresh delay would not compromise the company’s flying plans.
British Airways is also due to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in 2012, with Monarch Airlines operating the aircraft from 2013.
Tui expects the 787 to transform long-haul travel by making exotic destinations in Southeast Asia and South America available by direct flights from UK airports other than Heathrow or Gatwick.
It is considering which destinations to launch to at the moment. However, it is not likely to begin the new flight programme until winter 2012-13.
Much of the 787 fuselage is made from carbon fibre, making it lighter and at least 20% more fuel efficient than the aircraft it will replace. Boeing said: “Flight testing across the test fleet continues as planned.”