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Boeing sets schedule for 787 1st flight

Boeing employees work near a wing on a 787 fatigue test airplane last April at the plant in Everett, Wash.
Boeing employees work near a wing on a 787 fatigue test airplane last April at the plant in Everett, Wash.
Elaine Thompson, Associated Press

After repeated delays, Boeing Co. said Thursday its 787 aircraft will be ready for its first test flight by year's end and its first delivery in the fourth quarter next year.

The maiden flight of the next-generation aircraft, built for fuel efficiency with lightweight carbon composite parts, has been delayed five times already. The inaugural flight was originally slated for the fall of 2007.

The delays have cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars in anticipated expenses and penalties. With the date of the flight more certain now, shares of Boeing rose $2.72, or 5.7 percent, to $50.54 in premarket trading.

The Chicago company also says it will book a third-quarter charge of $2.5 billion pretax, or $2.21 per share, related to the 787 program. When it reported its second-quarter earnings last month, the aircraft manufacturer said it was still assessing the financial impact of the latest delay.

The eagerly anticipated long-range passenger jet has been delayed mostly because of production problems. With the 787, Boeing has taken a new approach to building airplanes, relying on overseas suppliers to build huge sections of the plane that are later assembled at the company's commercial aircraft plant near Seattle.

Ill-fitting parts and other problems have hampered production, but Boeing and some analysts say the plane — Boeing's first all-new jetliner since the 777, which airlines began flying in 1995 — eventually will prove a financial and technological success.

The latest delay came in June, when the company said earlier that it needed to reinforce an area in the side of the aircraft.

"This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787's game-changing capability in the hands of our customers," Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney, said in a statement.

Boeing expects it will produce 10 airplanes per month in late 2013.