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Dreamliner nears reality

Thu., June 18, 2009

Boeing says jet ready for final testing phase

PARIS – Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is on track for a final flight-readiness test this weekend and will undertake its maiden voyage before the end of June, said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager for the company’s airplane programs.

Speaking at this week’s Paris Air Show, Shanahan said that a runway taxi test will follow soon after Saturday’s flight-readiness test and that the 787 would then be prepared to conduct its first flight.

A second 787 would reach first flight two to three weeks afterward, Shanahan said.

Shanahan reinforced comments made earlier in the week by Scott Carson, Boeing’s chief executive in charge of its commercial airplanes business, that the long-awaited jet would fly before the end of the month in anticipation of initial deliveries in the first quarter of 2010.

As of Tuesday, there were 865 orders for the 787, Shanahan said, although no new orders had surfaced during the Paris Air Show. The recession has the Chicago-based company focused on maintaining its current backlog despite customer anxiety over the recession and falling demand for air travel.

The 787 is a twin-aisle jet that can carry up to 250 passengers and makes extensive use of lightweight composite materials for greater fuel efficiency.

Despite tougher economic conditions, the 787’s backlog looks robust to most analysts, valued at more than $140 billion based on the low end of the company’s current price table.

The plane is about two years overdue because of problems in its supply chain.


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