According to Geoffrey Thomas of Air Transport World, Boeing is getting ready to announce another delivery delay of possibly up to 9 months. Geoffrey also cites QANTAS engineering insiders that there is a significant (he did not elaborate) problem.
As I mentioned, the FAA is really the determinant of when the 787 will return to flight and be certified. At the time of the fire, I estimate that Boeing had about two and half to three months of flight testing to be completed. If this still holds then it's possible that the 787s could return to flight testing in about 6 months with delivery about 3 months later. This puts a projected first delivery date to about mid to late third quarter of 2011. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Boeing will announce a new first delivery date of mid fourth quarter 2011. They will need some time to digest the data from the flight testing that has been done; produce the required engineering changes and incorporate the changes into the 787s that have been built.
Geoffrey Thomas: Boeing reportedly set to announce another 787 delay
Despite another delay, I expect that Boeing will continue to produce 787s and get them ready for delivery. As had been mentioned in the past postings, Boeing has significant rework to do on the 787s that have been built. Another delay will give them some breathing room to get that rework done. They will have more rework to do after the test flight fleet returns to the air and other issues are revealed that would require changes to be made on the production 787s. The continued production of 787 that are undelivered presents Boeing with another problem: where to put park all those 787s. Already Boeing is squeezing them into spots near the Future of Flight Museum as well as the the apron in front of the Boeing assembly building and has set aside spots near the Everett ATC Tower to park even more 787s. But if there is another delay where can Boeing park all those new built 787s especially as they attempt to ramp up production next year? Mind you that the Boeing Everett ramp will be full of 777, 747-8, and 787s. There is the potential of additional stalls to the south of the Boeing plant, as well as the ATS Hangar which Boeing is renting currently. Boeing can possibly rent the ramp space in front of the ATS hangar. Boeing can also use building 40-23 which was used for the static testing of the 787 fuselage. That fuselage is due to be removed as is the test equipment that was installed for the static testing.
According to sources, Boeing is looking into increasing the 777 production rate to 8 to 10 per month from the current 5.5 per month. Boeing would utilize 40-23 for additional 777 assembly space. However, with the current issues in the 787 program, that space might be better served, in the short run, to store production 787 as well as an enclosed space to do rework on the 787s. Hopefully many of the questions will be answered in the next few days.