The path ahead

There’s not much more you can say in terms of just how frustrating it is to announce yet another delay. And it is deeply frustrating, once again, for the team, our partners, our suppliers, our customers, for the Boeing family. While we’ve made progress over the past year, the latest news is disappointing.

As you’ve no doubt read or heard, first flight for the 787 Dreamliner is now planned for the second quarter of 2009. First delivery is scheduled for the first quarter of 2010. Here’s the news release discussing our updated schedule.


The Dreamliner - seen here in the static test structure. Despite delays, 2008 was a year of progress.

The changes largely reflect the delays due to the disruption caused by the factory closure during the IAM strike (essentially early September into November), as well as issues with fasteners in the initial Dreamliners. We’re still putting together the customer schedules for deliveries and we’ll be sharing that with them when they’re complete.

Despite the delay, structural testing continues, we’re finalizing engineering changes, and we’re completing systems tests. But the reality is we had to make this further schedule shift to account for the unexpected issues this fall.

Separately, we’ve also announced some organizational and executive leadership changes to sharpen our focus at Commercial Airplanes - not only on our supply chain but on all of our airplane programs. We’re establishing a Supply Chain Management and Operations organization. This is meant to provide improved oversight and alignment of the entire supplier network.

We’re also establishing a new single Airplane Programs organization to increase management focus and resources on both development programs and current programs. The new organization will oversee 787 and 747-8 development as well as drive execution on the 737, 767 and 777 programs.

And one final note today, we’ve updated our Orders and Deliveries page. A new customer has been added to the 787 family, bringing us to more than 900 orders since we launched the program.

Comments (12)

P.Sumantri (France):

It seems that the root cause of the delay has not been eradicated yet. Can we expect to see this aircraft to fly by le Bourget? Only a few would bet a bottle of champagne for this. Many people now think that the bound to this program is not clearly defined.

On the other hand, this delay relieves the overcapacity burden that shoots airlines' profitability down. As you have heard, air travel is shrinking because of the current financial and economic turmoil. IATA forecast US$2.5 billion loss for 2009 - Worst Revenue Environment in 50 Years. Even areas with high growth potential like China could postpone deliveries as the CAAC calls for Chinese airlines to 'cancel or delay' aircraft orders.
I personally think there won't be any significant improvement in air travel volume before 2011.

The slowdown eases the pressure on the 787 program a bit. But, these delays will still upset your customers.

Vero Venia

Chris C (South Africa):

Indeed, this further program delay for the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner is exceptionally disappointing. There is no doubt whatsoever that the 787 is the world’s most advanced, cutting-edge, efficient and revolutionary airplane ever, period.

Whilst these further delays are frustrating, getting the 787 Dreamliner right in all aspects is absolute paramount. There is absolutely no need for rush, but rather to continue to work steadily, efficiently and solidly on the 787 programme. The 787 is a sound product, and whilst the management practises around the program may have been questionable, Boeing will pull through these frustrating times with absolute professionalism. With the all-new super-critical wing on the Dreamliner rumoured have better than expected efficiencies, we’re going to see the Dreamliner be a better than expected airplane, and that is stellar!

Congratulations on securing a further 15 orders for the 787...Wow! 910 firm orders for the 787, and with first flight set for Q2 ’09, it’s going to be interesting to see if this incredible airplane will reach the 1,000th firm order mark by then!

All the best, as always, for the steadily on-going 747-8 sales campaigns. This is another phenomenal airplane and I’m sure we’re going to see a good order or two in the coming months!

Jeff (Huntsville, Alabama):

I thought plane 1 would not be delayed this much due to the strike as most of the production on it has been done and is being checked out now. Maybe it's the fastener replacement issue. I'm really starting to have doubts on the progress being made on these early 787s. We need some good news showing progress...

Don Harrington (Bellevue, WA):

Imagine that - 1,000 orders before first fight! Maybe not too likely, but that number before first delivery is not outside the realm of possibilities!

Steven Reiman (Everett, WA):

We are the Boeing Company, top to bottom, shoulder to shoulder, and we're only as strong as our weakest link. When we see a link broken we must reach out to pick each other up, mend the ends, and together we will overcome the challenges blended into this program, we'll do it right, and will not deliver this aircraft until it is right.

The world, our friends and neighbors, children, and grandchildren will ride the skies in our Dreamliner for many years to come.

When you stand at the screen door, your eyes may see the screen, or focus on what is beyond. What is the truth and what is true. What is a patch, a temporary measure addressing a symptoms root cause, and what is the cure to make a system right. As fellow practitioners in technology we choose to do battle with nature's laws, human nature, entropy, and challenge the sky. Place a limit before us, say it can't be done, and we'll find a way to prove nay sayers wrong.

Across the company, across the world, we will make the Dream come alive. We just need a little more time to make it right.

Don't waste time blaming or listening to others placing blame. We're all humanity, have humility, we're full of human factors, seek partnership for excellence, build and follow sound processes to overcome our weaknesses, and look beyond the screen door to find the weeds and solve the problem's root cause and make it right. If your neighbor doesn't know how, teach him, or we'll all pay tuition again.

We're all sharing a Great Time in the World, making history in our own lives, and we'll make this Dreamliner right!

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Though thankfully there have been no major order cancellations, the further delays on the 787 project are disappointing.

I am glad that responsive action is being taken to help get to the route of the problem so the 787 doesn't miss another quarter.

martin nix (everett):

Personally, myself, I am half-engineer, half-mechanic, in that I use to work the engineering side, before returning from layoff on the mechanic/electrian side. One of the biggest issues I see on the 787 is a kind of wall between engineering and shop people.

We need more "face to face" informal contact between engineers and mechanics. I have personally witnessed that wall, where mechanics are discouraged from meeting with engineers, and engineers often times don't come out of the office, and actually see and touch and feel what they design. There needs to be more feedback to the engineers from what is "really going on".

There is an effort to "document" all contacts between the floor and engineering, but my impression is you can never, never get rid of the value of personal contact.

Parker Tuesday (Everett, Wa):

I want to start out first by saying that I have been a big fan of your blog since it came out, I have tried to read a few other people's blogs, but you just seem to have a better way of putting things I guess, so thank you.

But anyway, I am an IAM represented employee, and it just seems like everything I have read since I got back from strike is that all these delays in delivery, bad fasteners, and sub-standard suppliers, and this and that... always seems to find a way of getting blamed on us going out on strike?... for two months mind you, so how does two months turn into a 2 year + delay?

And also for that manner, we wouldn't have gone out on strike in the first place if all of our work wasn't being farmed out across the globe and we didn't have to worry everyday about our job being next in line. I'm sorry if that sounds mean, I don't mean for it to be, but all I'm saying is place the blame where it needs to be put, and stop making IAM your scapegoat please.

Dan (France):

On the other side of the pond, we can certainly understand your disappointment. You guys must be yearning to see the 787 take to the air, and get on with making the aircraft the success it is planned to be.

But I am surprised that despite repeated delays, the flight-test program remains so short for a new aircraft type with such a huge amount of new technology. Nine months is half or less of the usual period.

Of course, we can all hope that Boeing has found a way to revolutionise the way this critical phase is completed. But isn't there a very high risk that UNKUNKs found during the flight-test program will delay certification, and therefore deliveries, still further?

Danilo Hadek (São Paulo, SP):

That's pretty nice!! I'm looking forward to see Boeing delivering new Triple Seven to TAM Airlines...
Passagens Aéreas

Phil Cook (Wokingham (UK)):

Dissapointing indeed to see another delay from what was a very over optimistic original development schedule.

Achieving 900 orders before the first flight is to be applauded & is a truly equally astonishing achievement. Going forward I suggest more concrete time scales based on the still unknown risks with development of the production prototypes & aircraft certification.

The Delays & more importantly the mixed messages on this project have dented Boeings previous excellent history of new commercial airframe introduction, more critically it has reduced the in service differential between the 787 & the A350 which has 500 orders & still awaits a design freeze, given the current state of the worlds economies this just could just work in EADS favour.

John Shurr (Everett):

Maybe AOG should be working on the 787's to get this program moving?

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