TOKYO (AP) -- Delivery schedules for Boeing's repeatedly delayed 787 jet are now up in the air because of a strike that has shut down production, the manufacturer's executives said Tuesday.
Japan's All Nippon Airways Co. is scheduled to be the world's first customer for the 787 next-generation jet, which has already been postponed three times and by nearly two years from the original schedule.
The latest schedule had put its delivery for August next year. But a strike by U.S. workers including electricians, mechanics and painters is threatening to cause a further delay.
"We do not know when it will end," Boeing Vice President Randy Tinseth said of the strike, which began Sept. 6. "Only when it's over can we develop a production schedule."
The 787 jet is also important for Japan because the nation's major manufacturers, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, are making key components for the jet, which is being assembled in the U.S.
However, the aircraft has been delayed several times by production glitches, partly because it is breaking new ground, including developing innovative material to replace the usual aluminum for jets, according to Boeing.
The new, lighter material is designed to help make the jet more fuel efficient, an increasingly attractive feature because of soaring fuel prices.
Boeing Japan President Nicole Piasecki said it was too early to determine the possible negative effects of the strike but said other preparations for the 787 for Japan were going well.
"It is absolutely essential and a top priority for Boeing, for our customers and for our partners to conclude this strike as soon as possible," she told reporters. "But at the same time, we have to do so under terms that preserve the long-term competitiveness of our aircraft."