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Boeing: 787 Dreamliner first delivery on track, but schedule under pressure

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Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a composite aircraft designed to cut fuel costs, is on track for 2010 delivery -- but the schedule could slip and bleed into 2011.

Boeing said Wednesday that its 787 Dreamliner, a composite aircraft designed to cut fuel costs, is on track to be delivered to its first customers at the end of 2010, but that schedule could slip "a few weeks" and bleed into 2011.

In a statement highlighting Boeing's second quarter earnings, the company provided the following update on the Dreamliner. Boeing said:

The 787 program continued flight test during the quarter, as a fifth airplane joined the four airplanes already in the flight test program. The Dreamliner completed key flight test milestones, including extreme weather, icing and cruise performance testing. On July 1, the program completed another key milestone with the completion of 787-9 firm configuration. First delivery continues to be planned for the end of this year, although there is added pressure to the schedule and risk that initial delivery may move a few weeks as the company completes flight test and certification requirements. Total firm orders for the 787 program at quarter-end were 863 airplanes from 56 customers.

Boeing's Dreamliner update comes a week after a bevy of orders were announced at the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow.

Boeing's second quarter earnings were better than expected. Boeing reported earnings of $1.06 a share, a nickel better than Wall Street estimates. Second quarter revenue of $15.57 billion was down 9.2 percent from a year ago.

The company maintained its 2010 outlook. Boeing is projecting earnings per share of $3.50 to $3.80 a share on revenue of $64 billion to $66 billion.

Key comments from Boeing CEO Jim McNerney about the 787 on the company's conference call:

The flight and ground test results today have retired a majority of the technical risk and validated the break through innovations behind the game changing efficiency and economics of the 787 that they will bring to our customers. We have found nothing in the flight test program to diminish our confidence in the ability of the 787 to meet the mission needs of our customers.

And.

Progress on the 787 production ramp up also continues. We are seeing welcome improvements in overall quality and productivity and reduced traveled work as we work closely with our partners to balance the production flow throughout the supply chain. As we move through a series of upcoming rate increases, we will make adjustments, to the production flow as needed, to ensure the health of the production system. We also continue to make solid progress on the 787-9. In early July, the team completed firm configuration on this airplane, which defines its overall structure, propulsion and systems capability and allows us, together with our suppliers, to begin detailed design of the airplane. We expect first delivery of the dash 9 to occur in late 2013.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure