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Technology: A Dream Deferred

With 52 airlines awaiting a total of 762 787s, word that delivery of Boeing’s much-ballyhooed Dreamliner would be deferred was unwelcome news indeed.

Nevertheless, the Dreamliner’s production problems seem to bear no resemblance to the repeated delays experienced by Airbus’s A380, aka “the whalejet,” which can theoretically carry more than 600 passengers. A380 snafus have resulted in layoffs, a revamp of the European planemaker’s leadership, and a number of order cancellations.

Boeing, by contrast, claims its first 787 will be delivered by the end of this year, i.e., just a six-month schedule pushback. Not only that, but the company says it will still produce 40 Dreamliners in 2008 and 109 by the end of next year. Only 19 of Boeing’s customers are affected by the delay.

Still, Boeing has had to compress its test flight schedule, with the first models taking to the air in the new year’s first quarter.

Veteran aerospace reporter J. Lynn Lunsford has written the best analysis I have seen about the Dreamliner difficulties, “Jet Blues: Boeing Scrambles to Repair Problems With New Plane.”

Fortunately for Airbus, the A380, for which there are only about 150 orders, finally made it off the ground October 25, 2007 — about two years behind schedule.

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With so many more 787s on order in comparison, expectations for first commercial flight of the Dreamliner have to be sky-high.

Count me among those who’d love to be onboard when Boeing’s dream jet takes to the air.

How about you?

Airline Futurist • Miami • www.amadeus.com

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