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Waiting for Boeing to announce timing of 787's maiden voyage

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The announcement of the 787 Dreamliner's maiden flight is seemingly imminent even with two years worth of delays. It's hard to imagine Boeing has miscalculated at this juncture on its promise to deliver first flight before year's end. The key determinant in exactly when it will happen could be the weather.

Today could be when Boeing announces the 787's first flight. The 10 days Boeing said it wanted to evaluate tests on the side of body repair have expired and there's not a lot of time between now and Christmas. The announcement is moment to moment thing and it could come before this post is finished.

If memory serves me, Boeing announcements tend to come out latter in the day for those on the East Coast. In the past, Boeing has said it would give the media a week's advance notice.

FlightBlogger Jon Ostrower is reporting gauntlet tests on plane ZA001 were tentatively slated to start yesterday and last through Thursday. First flight remains on track for early to mid next week. "The Final Gauntlet is a series of closed loop ground tests that will evaluate ZA001's systems while fooling the aircraft in believing it is flying," Ostrower reported.

credit: Boeing

As you might imagine, Boeing is keeping an eye on the weather. The 10-day forecast for Seattle is mostly cloud Monday and showers Tuesday-Friday with temperatures in the 40s. It's conceivable the first flight could be on a weekend day if the weekday weather does not cooperate.

Yesterday, Boeing got a large but not finalized order from United Airlines which placed orders 25 787s to be delivered between 2016-2019. United will retire its international 747s and 767s and will reduce seat count by 19 per cent over the planes are replaced.

That's sad commentary on the state of airline industry and given United's troubled history during the past decade, it could go through several lifetimes between now and the time the planes are slated to be delivered. It has an option of 25 more 787s and placed the exact same order for 25 Airbus' A350s with options for 25 more.

It's not a firm order, it would seem. "Boeing looks forward to working with United to finalize the order at which time it will be posted to the Boeing Orders and Deliveries Web site," Boeing said in a press release.

“Our decision to move forward aggressively at the bottom of the business cycle clearly benefited us. We secured the right aircraft and the right deal for United,” United CFO Kathryn Mikells said in  a press release.

United has been a Boeing customer for 80 years.

More coverage of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner on SmartPlanet:

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John Dodge

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor John Dodge has written for the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, PC Week (now eWeek), EDN, Design News, Electronic Business, Bio-IT World, Health-IT World, Lowell Sun, Haverhill Gazette and Newburyport Daily News. He is based in Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure