Chicago-based Boeing Company announced on Tuesday that the first flight of the 787 Dreamliner, which is scheduled by the end of this month and has already been two years delayed, will be postponed for the fifth time due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.
In a statement, Boeing said the need was identified during the recent regularly scheduled tests on the full-scale static test airplane. Preliminary analysis indicated that flight test could proceed this month as planned.
However, after further testing and consideration of possible modified flight test plans, the decision was made late last week that first flight should instead be postponed until productive flight testing could occur. Boeing has postponed the first flight for four times in past two years, citing parts shortages, defects, redesign work and problems with suppliers for disrupting development.
Boeing didn't give the definite rescheduled timetable of the first flight and first delivery. The airplane giant just indicated that after the final determination of the required modification and testing plan, "Several weeks" will be needed before the new schedule is available.
According to the statement, the 787 team will continue with other aspects of testing on Airplane No. 1, including final gauntlet testing and low-speed taxiing. Work will also continue on the other five flight test aircraft and the subsequent aircraft in the production system.
"Consideration was given to a temporary solution that would allow us to fly as scheduled, but we ultimately concluded that the right thing was to develop, design, test and incorporate a permanent modification to the localized area requiring reinforcement," said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
However, Carson said on June 16 at the Paris Air Show that the "airplane could fly today" and reiterated the plan for the first-flight by the month's end.
Boeing said its financial guidance will be updated to reflect any impact of these changes when the company issues its second quarter 2009 earnings report in July.