Boeing's Dreamliner Faces Delivery Delays

Analysts say delays in flight testing may put the jets behind schedule, which could hurt the airplane maker's profits.

NEW YORK (AP) — Analysts said Thursday that delays in flight testing will probably keep Boeing Co. from delivering its first Dreamliner 787 jets on schedule, and that could hurt the airplane maker's profits.
On Wednesday, Boeing said problems with assembly of the planes and flight-control software issues would delay the first flight tests of the Dreamliner until mid-November or mid-December. Testing was expected in late August or September.
The company is scheduled to deliver the first Dreamliners to Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. in May.
Analysts including Benjamin Fidler of Deutsche Bank noted that Boeing now plans to test the plane for five to six months, or about half the time it took to test the 777 a decade ago.
If any of the test flights show that more work is required, Fidler said, it could be hard to deliver the plane on time.
''If problems are discovered from flight test, which require rework on production aircraft, the time window to carry out such modification work will be significantly reduced,'' he said. ''This raises risk to both 787 schedule and costs.''
Fidler kept a ''Hold'' rating and a price target of $104 on Boeing shares and did not predict any losses for Boeing due to the delays.
Lehman Brothers analyst Joseph Campbell reiterated an ''Overweight'' rating and $112 price target. He said that delays probably won't hurt the stock price, but the May deadline will be difficult to reach.
''We expect Boeing will have a very hard time staying both on schedule and on budget for the 787, but both may still be possible,'' he said.
Citi Investment Research analyst George Shapiro, however, said longer delays could cause problems.
''We believe if deliveries are delayed over three months, penalties will start to be significant,'' he said.
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