Boeing has said it will start building its first 787 Dreamliner in the next three months and the first test flight should follow at the end of August.
That word came from its chief financial officer James Bell. Wary of the kind of delays suffered by its rival Airbus, Bell said they feel “pretty comfortable” that the test flight will be on track but they have to wait until they get through it.
Bell told investors Boeing is devoting significant amounts of research and development money to resolving weight and timing challenges with the fuel-efficient 787, featuring lighter composite materials. But he said that is typical of a new aircraft development programme at this stage.
Airbus is still many stages behind Boeing with its response, the A350.
There is little difference in the passenger load and distances the two planes can fly, but a big gap in when they are due to take to the skies. The 787 is scheduled to go into service in May 2008; the A350 not until 2013.
There is also is a massive difference in the number of orders received. Uncertainty over the original version of the A350 kept airlines on the sidelines while Boeing built up firm orders for 464 Dreamliners.
But there was what Airbus called “an endorsement” of the A350 programme as Finnair gave the planemaker its first firm orders for 11 of the reworked version of the plane. Finnair has also taken options for four more A350s.