CHICAGO — Boeing Co. has long promised that its 787 Dreamliner will fly faster and farther than any other medium-sized jet, use 20 percent less fuel and offer increased cabin comfort.
Now the first all-new American commercial jetliner in more than a decade also will be at least six months late.
Acknowledging that early problems assembling the first 787 have disrupted its schedule, the aerospace company said Wednesday it is delaying initial deliveries of the ballyhooed aircraft by six months. Instead of next May, the first deliveries are now targeted for late November or December 2008.
The first test flight, already pushed back once from the initial target of early this fall, now is not anticipated until around the end of the first quarter of 2008.
The delay highlights inherent problems in building new airplanes and could slow the momentum Boeing built up after years of lagging behind European rival Airbus, which itself stumbled in introducing its superjumbo A380 two years behind schedule.
Chairman and CEO Jim McNerney expressed disappointment over the delays but said the problems relate to the company’s supply chain, not to any structural or design problems.
“We are very confident in the design of this airplane,” he said on a conference call. “It’ll be a 25- to 30-year success — one of the fundamentally new things in aviation.”
The 787, Boeing’s first newly designed jet since airlines started flying the 777 in 1995, will be the world’s first large commercial airplane made mostly of carbon-fiber composites, which are lighter, more durable and less prone to corrosion than more traditional aluminum.
Boeing has said it will be cheaper to maintain and offer better fuel efficiency and more passenger comforts than comparable planes flying today.
But the company said its effort has been shadowed by difficulty getting the right parts from its suppliers on time as well as shortages of fasteners and other small parts that hold large sections of the plane together.
Boeing said the postponement will not materially affect its earnings or guidance for next year but will cause it to push back an estimated 30 to 35 deliveries of 787s from next year to 2009.