Boeing Says 787 Dreamliner On Track

Plane maker said Tuesday the initial test flight and delivery of the jetliner remain on schedule after delays that cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Boeing Co. said Tuesday the initial test flight and delivery of its long-awaited 787 jetliner remain on schedule.

The Chicago-based aerospace company has postponed the introduction of the next-generation aircraft, built for fuel efficiency from carbon composite parts, four times due to production glitches and a two-month strike last fall. The delays have cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars in anticipated costs and penalties.

Boeing has faced waning demand for its planes as airlines report lower air traffic amid the global economic slowdown, though it maintains a record backlog of orders. The credit crisis also has hurt airlines' ability to secure financing for aircraft.

Scott Carson, president and chief executive of Boeing's commercial aircraft division, said Boeing continues to work toward the inaugural 787 test flight in the second quarter of this year and the first delivery in the first quarter of 2010.

"The progress on a daily basis is gratifying," he said at an investor conference in New York. "We have now cleared all the equipment on the airplane for first flight and are continuing to work through the integrated software and hardware testing."

Originally, the plane's inaugural test flight was scheduled for late 2007, with the first delivery slated for May 2008.

Boeing currently has 878 orders for the hot-selling plane from 57 customers, he said.

Carson also said Boeing remains confident in the financing of commercial planes to be delivered in 2009 and early 2010, though "we're very cautious as we get to the midpoint of next year."

Boeing has said it would provide financing of about $1 billion to customers, if necessary.

"As we look at the markets this year, with financing commitments that have already been made, we believe every one of the airplanes scheduled for delivery this year will be delivered, and the draw on us to provide financing will be relatively minimal," he said.

Shares of Boeing rose $1.31, or 4.2 percent, to $32.31 in midday trading Tuesday.

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