Boeing's 787 still a Dreamliner

Boeing has put off the delivery of its new 787 Dreamliner for the seventh time. Not good, in the wake of yesterday's figures...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 26 Sep 2011
If last year’s engine troubles on its giant A380 superjumbo scored something of an own goal for European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, then US rival Boeing has just equalised in similarly crushing style. The company has had to postpone the delivery date of its brand new 787 Dreamliner, pushing it back to an indeterminate date during the third quarter of this year after an onboard fire in November apparently forced it to stop test flights.

Boeing’s Dreamliner is already three years behind its intended delivery date, and before it released today’s statement, the company had been due to make its first deliveries to Japanese airline All Nippon next month. But after the fire, the company says it needs to produce, install and test new software and power distribution panels for the planes.

This sort of announcement would usually send shares plummeting, but the markets are used to it from Boeing. This is the seventh time delivery has been put off (the last time was in September, when it was postponed because of a lack of availability of Rolls-Royce engines), so investors have sort of come to expect setbacks. In fact, the delay is modest, compared to expectations – the share price even rose slightly after the announcement, gaining 2.57%.

Still, it’s not the greatest news for the company, particularly after yesterday’s triumphant revelation by Airbus that it had received 644 new orders last year, in comparison to Boeing’s paltry 625. Airbus’ figure was bolstered by an order for 60 new A320 aircraft from Virgin America (which will help the airline more than triple its fleet), and another 15 from EasyJet. And Airbus made more deliveries than Boeing, with 510 planes (although admittedly not all of those functioned entirely as expected), while Boeing only made 462 deliveries.

There’s no escaping the fact Boeing’s reputation has been seriously dented by the Dreamliner fiasco. Then again, if Airbus’ swift recovery from those engine troubles is anything to go by, once the Dreamliner is safely in the air, it shouldn’t take too long for its customers to forget…

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