Boeing says it has finalised the basic design and capabilities of the stretch version of its new 787 Dreamliner airplane.
With flight and ground tests in progress on the original 787-8 model, which is more than two-and-a-half years behind schedule, Boeing has completed the basic design work on the longer 787-9. The airplane with a 290-passenger capacity can fly as far as 8,500 nautical miles about 4 per cent farther than the 787-8.
Boeing says it would add two fuselage sections to the 787-9. The first delivery is expected to be in late 2013. With the finalisation of a basic design Boeing and its network of global suppliers, which provide almost all the parts of the Dreamliner, can take the next step in designing and building individual parts of the twin-engine, wide body jet.
"Firm configuration means the airplane's structural, propulsion and systems architectures are defined and not changing," said Mark Jenks, Boeing's vice president of 787-9 development, in a prepared statement.
The company currently has 866 Dreamliners on order from 57 customers, of which 191 are orders for the 787-9 while 675 are for the 787-8.
With Boeing moving closer to receiving of final certification for the 787-8 from the Federal Aviation Administration in the US and international aviation regulators, company officials say they will be able to deliver the first production jet to All Nippon Airways Co of Japan by the end of this year.
Though a number of Dreamliners have been due to the recession, there has also been some amount of jockeying for positions in the delivery sequence has happened. Some customers want to take early deliveries while others want delayed deliveries down the production stream, by which time the initial weight and other technical issues may be worked out.
According to Boeing officials a third model the 787-3 may never see the light of the day as it was designed for high-domestic domestic routes in Asia and has failed to attract customers. Initial orders came from ANA and Japan Airlines Corp who ordered nearly four dozen of them for their domestic routes, but by December the orders had either been canceled or converted them to other Dreamliner models.