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Boeing postpones delivery of 1st Dreamliner to 2011

A file photo of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner aircraft

TOKYO (AFP): Aerospace giant Boeing said Friday it will delay until early 2011 the delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner aircraft, originally scheduled for the end of this year.

The confirmation of the delay in delivery to Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) was made in a statement released in the US and Japan, after the maker warned in July it may have to push the date back into next year.

The company has confirmed that it now expects delivery of the first Dreamliner in the middle of the first quarter 2011 as it continues to test the plane.

Boeing said the revision follows "an assessment of availability of an engine needed for the final phases" of flight testing this autumn. Rolls-Royce provides the aircraft engines for the aircraft.

"While Boeing works closely with Rolls-Royce to expedite engine availability, flight testing across the test fleet continues as planned," it said.

Boeing added that the scheduled revision will not affect the company's financial guidance.

The aviation giant is hanging its future on the mid-sized plane -- its first new model in more than a decade -- which draws on huge advances in aviation technology and can fly long-haul routes using up to 20 per cent less fuel.

The fuel efficiency is largely down to the fact that up to half the twin-aisle Dreamliner is made of lightweight composite materials, such as carbon fibre-reinforced resin, according to the company.

In July, Boeing said a series of issues, including problems with the "horizontal stabiliser" and instrumentation delays, could push the first delivery back into next year.

Boeing said it had detected a "workmanship issue" with the horizontal stabiliser, a component in the rear of the aircraft that is designed to stabilise it in flight. It is made by Italy's Alenia.

Boeing launched the Dreamliner programme in April 2004 and initially had planned to deliver the first plane to ANA in the first half of 2008. The plane can seat up to 330 passengers.

ANA has ordered a total of 55 Dreamliners as it looks to gradually replace its fleet of kerosene-hungry vehicles with more economically and environmentally friendly models.

Earlier this month flagship carrier Air India said it wanted compensation from Boeing for delays in the delivery of Dreamliner planes, with media reports saying the airline is demanding one billion dollars.

Meanwhile Boeing's fierce European rival Airbus is working on a new long-haul plane of its own -- the A350 XWB (Extra Wide Body). Another big project for Airbus is its long-delayed A400M military transport plane.


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