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Boeing expects another delivery delay for 787 Dreamliner

Boeing Co. expects an electrical setback in its already delayed 787 Dreamliner to push back the jetliner’s delivery target, the company’s commercial aircraft chief said Tuesday.

Jim Albaugh said Boeing would take more time to fully understand and fix a fault in an electrical panel that triggered a fire during a test flight last month, grounding Dreamliner trials.

“There will be an impact with the first delivery,” Albaugh said when asked whether the 2011 first-quarter target would slip. “I think it will be after that.”

Boeing is making design changes to Dreamliner electrical distribution panels and updating software that manages power.

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The light-weight, carbon-composite 787, which promises hefty fuel savings to airlines, is almost three years late.

Boeing has delayed delivery of the Dreamliner six times because of problems with engineering and its global supply chain as well as labor unrest. Wall Street has punished Boeing shares since Nov. 9, pushing them down more than 7%.

Boeing’s current schedule calls for Japan’s All Nippon Airways Co. to get the first delivery.

Analysts have expected Boeing to affirm that the delivery schedule would again be pushed back. Outside estimates expect a delay of at least a few months.

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“Even before this happened, I always thought the schedule was bound to slip,” said Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia, who expects a delay of about four to six months.

Albaugh was not more specific about a timetable.

“We have another several weeks of work to do to get the fix in place,” Albaugh said. “Once we understand the fix, we’ll be able to tell you [the] impact on the schedule.”

Boeing shares fell 59 cents to $63.77.

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The second-largest commercial plane maker after Airbus has said foreign debris probably caused the Nov. 9 fire that erupted as Dreamliner test plane ZA002 approached the Laredo, Texas, airport.

The wide-body aircraft made an emergency landing and the more than 40 people aboard, including engineers and other test flight personnel, exited safely.

Boeing said Tuesday that the plane has been repaired and was set to return to Seattle.


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