Boeing 787 maiden flight reset for Q4

In a terse four paragraph press release, Boeing this morning announced that the first flight of the two year late and counting 787 Dreamliner is slated for the fourth quarter.

The maiden 787 flight was supposed to happen before the end of June, but as the the month wound down, it became clear that wasn't going to happen. Then Boeing dropped a bombshell that a small section of the wing where it attaches to an assembly called the wing box needed reinforcement.

I Twittered about the new schedule several days ago, citing a blog post from friend and former Reed Elsevier colleague Jon Ostrower. He his Aug. 20 post at his FlightBlogger blog cited a secret Boeing document dubbed "Z18" which laid out the new schedule. Ostrower has consistently scooped stories about the 787.

Commercial deliveries have been pushed back until the fourth quarter of 2010, Boeing said. The company hopes to produce 10 a month by late 2013, drawing down an order backlog of more than 800.

"This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787's game-changing capability in the hands of our customers," said Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney in the press release. "The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete, and the team is preparing airplanes for modification and testing."

The importance of this deadline is reflected that CEO McNerney was cited. He usually leaves the talking to Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson or  Commerical Airplanes VP and GM Pat Shanahan, who've been under intense pressure to get the plane into the air.

Boeing has been hammered in the press and financial markets because the vaunted plane is so late. If it doesn't go this time, heads will be sure to roll.

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