LOS ANGELES: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner , the world’s most advanced and fuel-efficient passenger jet whose delivery has been delayed six times since the 2008 deadline, is likely to enter service soon.
The next-generation passenger aircraft is “expected on the runway by fall,’’ according to the Los Angeles Times .
Boeing already has orders for 847 Dreamliners. A ‘must-have’ for long-haul flights, each Dreamliner costs more than $200 million.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways , which has the largest order, will receive the first jets.
The long-range, mid-sized and twin-engine Dreamliner is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than the comparable Boeing 767. More than half its structure is made of lightweight composite materials instead of aluminum, making the aircraft more durable and less prone to corrosion.
With seating capacity of 210 to 330 passengers, the faster Dreamliner adds to passenger comfort with its wider aisles, more legroom, taller cabins and soft blue-sky lighting instead of harsh white fluorescent lights.
The plane also offers bigger overhead luggage bins and larger windows that by the touch of a button can adjust the light coming into the cabin - rather than by raising a solid window shade.
With its 20 per cent fuel efficiency, and lower maintenance and repairs costs, this next-generation plane will lead to estimated savings of $5.4 million a year for airliners.
According to the LA Times, the delay in delivery has led to 10 billions in cost overheads for Boeing and forced airlines to put off opening new routes and keep older planes in service.
Orders for more than 100 plane have also been cancelled for which Boeing paid penalty.
“Nearly three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet has been a nonstop frustration for Boeing Co - disappointing airlines, passengers and hundreds of unpaid parts suppliers,’’ according to the report.
The paper said that major part suppliers - based mostly in Southern California - had even agreed to pay upfront costs for things such as labour and tooling to avoid delay delivery of the jetliner, but now find the delays increasingly costly.
The delays have been blamed on Boeing’s attempt to cut costs, including its $2.5-billion write-off the company incurred in the third quarter of 2009.
Other problems that plagued the project included faulty parts from suppliers, a labor strike and design flaws, the LA Times said.
After Boeing unveiled the Dreamliner in July 2007, its stock started declining and has fallen more than 25 per cent since then.
“There is a huge cloud over the Boeing stock until the 787 enters the commercial market,’’ the paper quoted Peter Arment, an analyst with Gleacher & Co , as saying.
Boeing is currently flight testing six Dreamliners to get official certification from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can start delivering them.