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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Oman Air wavers on Boeing 787 order

Friday September 25, 2009

by Aaron Karp

Boeing said it has started making the upper wing join area fix on the first flight test 787 and the static test Dreamliner to address the structural weakness identified in June that led to the program's latest delay.

The manufacturer said in August that first flight "is expected by the end of 2009" with first delivery to launch customer ANA pushed back to the 2010 fourth quarter, and insisted that the wing join area modification is relatively simple (ATWOnline, Aug. 28).

"Modifications are indeed underway," Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP-Marketing Randy Tinseth wrote on his blog. "We've begun installing the reinforcements on the area within the side-of-body section on [the first flight test 787] and on the static airframe. We're mounting new fittings at stringer attachment locations within the joint where the wing attaches to the fuselage." He said the modifications on ZA001, the first flight test 787, are being done in Boeing's Everett paint hangar. Modifications on the other five flight test aircraft will begin shortly, he added.

Meanwhile, Oman Air CEO Peter Hill said the airline is not certain it will stick with its commitment to lease six 787s from ALAFCO. It signed a contract with the Kuwaiti lessor two years ago. "I think we will take a decision once it has flown. Let's see when it flies," Hill told Reuters.

"There have to be concerns about Boeing's ability to deliver that aircraft as it was originally designed. My predecessors bought it on the basis of a whole load of performance guarantees and delivery dates. So far Boeing haven't demonstrated that the confidence we put in it is going to be met in the near future," he said. "Boeing are playing it very close to their chest. It doesn't help for great dialogue between customers and the company and that is a criticism. We are not being kept informed enough on what's really going on. That begs the question, do they really know how to solve some of these issues?"

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