Boeing Co. has to redesign parts of its troubled 787 Dreamliner, raising the prospect that the delivery of the new aircraft would be delayed, according to the International Lease Finance Corp., an aeronautic leasing company and largest client of the new jets.
The outlook is "not pretty" said Steven Udvar-Hazy, chairman and founder of the finance company, as quoted Wednesday by the investment firm JP Morgan Chase.
Udvar-Hazy said the aircraft's first deliveries would be delayed for at least another six months until the end of the third quarter of 2009, because its centre wing box, which connects the the jetliner's wing to the fuselage and holds fuel, needed to be redesigned.
International Lease Finance Corp. has ordered 74 Dreamliners, and Udvar-Hazy has said he is in talks with Boeing for 26 more, underscoring that he believes the super-efficient plane will be a huge success despite the ongoing problems.
Boeing did not directly respond to Udvar-Hazy's comments about the center wing box redesign, saying only that "it is normal during the development of a new airplane to discover the need for design enhancements."
But Boeing did acknowledge that some design changes are being made, complicating final assembly of the first two 787s at the Everett plant.
Boeing said it was sticking to its most recent guidelines, but added that it was undertaking a review of the 787 and would report its findings publicly at the end of this month or early next.
Boeing has already announced two embarrassing delays for the 787. The much-expected third delay has to be the last, or Boeing's credibility will be damaged far more than it already has been, analysts said.
The 787 will be the first large commercial airplane made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, which are lighter and more durable than the metals used in most planes today.