Mumbai: US-based aircraft makerBoeing Co., which is running behind on the testing schedule for its much-awaited Dreamliner, or B787, aircraft, the lightest long-haul aircraft in the world, says Indian plane deliveries will happen on time because it had factored in for some delays, and will not derail carriers’ expansion plans.
While state-run carrier Air India has ordered 27 Dreamliners for delivery next year, private carrier Jet Airways will pick up its 10 aircraft in 2011.
“There is no change or delay in the delivery schedule or guidance for India,” said Dinesh A. Keskar, senior vice-president (sales) of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We have already made some cushion for this aircraft programme. With this delay, that cushion has become a bit smaller. As a matter of fact, there will be no delay for other countries as well.”
The Dreamliner is being put together in different parts of the world and is being built out of 135 sites, making it imperative for all parties to stick to their schedules. European airplane maker and rival Airbus SAS recently faced delays for its A380, the largest passenger aircraft ever built in the world.
Air India chairman and managing director Vasudevan Thulasidas said it was too early to say whether delivery would be delayed or not. “Air India is taking delivery of its first Dreamliner in September next year. If the delay is owing to minor software problem, the deliveries will not be affected,” Thulasidas said.
He pointed out that the route expansion plans are well on schedule as the carrier has not heard anything from Boeing about the delays, if any.
Boeing has secured 706 orders from 48 customers for the Dreamliner from 2004 until now, making this the most successful launch of a new commercial airplane in the company’s history.
In a statement on Thursday, Boeing said it “anticipates 787 Dreamliner’s first flight to move to somewhere in the mid-November to mid-December time frame. The two main issues that we are dealing with are the travelled assembly work and finishing the integration of flight control system software.”
However, the company said that it will meet its first delivery schedule in May because of a strict flight test schedule and the setting up of an around-the-clock operation.
According to Boeing, the B787 version will burn 20% less fuel and have 30% lower maintenance costs than similar-size aircraft.
The Dreamliner version (including 787-8, 787-3 and 787-9) will carry 210-330 passengers and is capable of flying 14,200-15,200km.
An industry analyst, who did not want to be named, pointed out that it would be difficult for Boeing to keep its schedule as the first delivery is scheduled in May. However, the fate of the delivery entirely depends upon the nature of shortage of components, he said.
“It is difficult to draw a conclusion on the current delay of test flight as we are going to take delivery of B787 between July 2011 and December 2012,”’ Jet Airways chief executive officer Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said. “Moreover, we are yet to hear from Boeing about any sort of delays.”
The Boeing board of directors granted authority to offer the aircraft for sale in late 2003.
The programme was launched in April 2004, with Japan’s All Nippon Airways as its first customer.