Boeing Sets 787 Delivery Date After Delays

Boeing Co. (BA)’s 787 Dreamliner will be delivered to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways on Sept. 25, three years behind schedule, after today’s regulatory approvals of the world’s first plastic-composite jet.

The aircraft will arrive in Tokyo for its initial customer on Sept. 28 after contractual delivery three days earlier, Boeing and All Nippon said in a statement. The plane received its so-called type certifications from U.S. and European governments, verifying that it complies with aviation standards, in a ceremony at Boeing’s factory in Everett, Washington.

“Once our customers get this airplane, they’ll forgive us for the fact we’re a little late,” Jim Albaugh, chief of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told customers and employees, a few hundred of whom gathered for the event.

The 787, Boeing’s first new plane since the twin-aisle 777, is arriving late and billions of dollars over budget because of struggles with the new materials and production system the company developed for it.

“It has been tough, it has been long, but the result is there,” said Patrick Goudou, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The 250-seat Dreamliner uses lighter-weight plastics and more electricity to let it fly farther with less fuel. That allows airlines to open new long-haul routes that wouldn’t warrant service with jumbo jets.

‘Hopes and Dreams’

The 787 “will play an important role in our international expansion strategy,” All Nippon Chief Executive Officer Shinichiro Ito said. The carrier plans to use the jet on domestic routes initially and then begin flights to Europe with it next year. Other early customers include Air India and United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL)

The 787 is Boeing’s fastest-selling plane ever, with more than 800 ordered before it even flew in December 2009. Still, there haven’t been any orders for the aircraft this year, while contracts for 26 have been canceled since January, according to yesterday’s weekly update online.

That brings the total to 821 orders, which would be about seven years of work if Boeing manages to increase production to 10 a month in 2013 from two now.

Boeing had six test jets based out of Seattle’s Boeing Field and flying around the world for 20 months in search of the right weather and conditions to prove the 787’s airworthiness to the FAA. They tested high-altitude performance in Bolivia, noise in Montana and crosswinds in Iceland.

During about 4,800 flight hours, crews dealt with simulated and real emergencies --including a fire in 2010 -- and sought out lightning and ice.

“This airplane embodies the hopes and dreams of everyone fortunate enough to work on it,” Albaugh said in a separate statement. “Their dreams are now coming true.”

Boeing climbed $1.70, or 2.8 percent, to $62.80 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The increase was the largest among the 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The plane certified today flies on engines from Rolls-Royce Holdings, one of two options for customers and the first that will enter service. Tests on aircraft using General Electric Co. (GE)’s GEnx engine are continuing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Susanna Ray in Everett, Washington, at sray7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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