Boeing Co. said Tuesday that it was still working through "wrinkles" in the supply chain for its new 787 Dreamliner and hoped to deliver the first aircraft in late 2008.
There are still "significant supply-chain wrinkles," said Scott Carson, chief of Boeing's commercial airplane group. Parts shortages are declining and there's greater availability of fasteners needed to assemble the aircraft, Chicago-based Boeing said.
The Dreamliner has 762 orders valued at more than $120 billion, making it Boeing's most successful new aircraft in sales.
The company Oct. 10 delayed first delivery by six months to as late as December 2008 because of parts shortages and so it could complete work that suppliers should have finished. The next milestone comes next month, when the 787's power will be first switched on.
"This will be the next date for investors' diaries," wrote Robert Stallard, a Banc of America Securities analyst in New York.
"This is an important knowledge point, at which the company can retire a significant amount of risk on the program."
Powering the first plane will allow fuller testing of the aircraft's basic systems. The initial flight test is still scheduled for the first quarter of 2008, Boeing said.
All six of the test aircraft will be built by the end of the second quarter, said Pat Shanahan, whom Boeing placed in charge of the program Oct. 16.
Boeing confirmed its plans to deliver 109 Dreamliners by the end of 2009.
Shanahan warned that remaining on schedule "assumes no major unknowns are uncovered in flight testing."
Shares of Boeing fell $3.94, or 4.3%, to $88.70.