Boeing sees new 787 schedule in “few weeks”


Boeing Co said foreign debris likely caused the fire on a 787 Dreamliner that brought test flights to a standstill, but has not yet determined how long finding and fixing the problem will add to the plane’s testing and manufacturing schedule.

Experts throughout the aviation industry have been predicting a delay since the November 9 electrical fire that led to an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas and a stop to 787 test flights. Time-frame estimates for a new delay range from a month to a few years.

Boeing’s new carbon-composite plane, already six times delayed and almost three years late, is supposed to be delivered to the first customer in the first quarter of next year, Reuters reports.

The world’s second-largest plane-maker after Airbus (EAD.PA) said on Wednesday it is making minor design changes to power distribution panels on the 787 and updating software that manages power as it plots its way to getting the plane flying again.

It said the fault which led to the fire was most likely caused by foreign debris.

A revised 787 program schedule “is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks,” the company added.

The 787, a light-weight, fuel-efficient airplane, has generated about 850 orders but has also been dogged by engineering, labor and supply chain problems.

According to its latest schedule, the company had planned to deliver a Dreamliner to its first customer, Japan’s All Nippon Airways, in the first quarter of 2011. The original target date was May 2008.