787 first flight delayed by Boeing strike

Scheduled for late 2008, first flight now seems likely to occur in early 2009. No report yet on whether or not delivery of the first plane will be affected.

The Boeing Co. (Seattle, Wash.) reported last week that the 787 Dreamliner would not make its first test flight in 2008 as planned because of delays caused by the just-settled machinists’ strike. The aircraft maker also discovered a problem with with some of the plane's titanium fasteners that has necessitated time-consuming replacement.

Boeing has postponed the 787’s first flight several times because of production delays. It's not clear at this point if the first-flight delay will push back delivery of the first plane to Japan's All Nippon Airlines in late 2009.

The 27,000-member International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers in Washington, Oregon and Kansas began its strike on Sept. 6 in a dispute over job security and returned to work Nov. 2. The walkout halted production of airplanes at Boeing and interrupted development work on the Dreamliner.

Boeing must now ramp back up to full production capacity before a concrete first-flight date can be set, however, industry estimates put the date sometime in first quarter 2009. Some analysts also think the delay may push delivery of the first plane to early 2010.

Other news reports also indicate that Boeing had discovered that fasteners used on the Dreamliner had been incorrectly installed. The problem occurred on the four test versions of the Dreamliner that have been assembled in Everett, Wash., as well as on parts of the plane that are still at Boeing’s suppliers.