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Boeing Co. makes fix on 787 joint

EVERETT – Boeing Co. said Thursday it has finished fixing structural flaws in the first of its long-delayed 787 jetliners. The problem forced the company to postpone test-flying the jet for a fifth time earlier this year.

The Chicago-based airplane maker said the repair within the joint where the wings attach to the plane’s fuselage is “a significant step” toward the first test flight of the aircraft, which has been delayed due to a series of production glitches and a two-month labor strike late last year.

Boeing has postponed the plane’s inaugural test flight and deliveries five times, putting it more than two years behind schedule. The company reiterated that it plans to fly the 787 for the first time by the end of 2009.

“Completing this work is a significant step toward first flight,” Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said in a statement.

The repair, which involves installing 34 small, reinforced fittings, will be tested on a static airframe later this month. If successful, Boeing will resume final preflight work on the initial 787, Fancher said, and the company remains confident the first flight will occur before the end of the year.

Other 787s being completed by Boeing will be modified in the weeks ahead, he said.

Repeated delays of the 787 have cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars in anticipated expenses and penalties.