Boeing's Dreamliner is dream deferred

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is unveiled in Everett, Wash.

TEXT OF STORY

BOB MOON: The first flight of Boeings' new 787 Dreamliner was supposed to take off today. But a problem predicting how the lightweight plane will respond to stress of flight means the new plan will stay grounded. Marketplace's Steve Henn reports.


STEVE HENN: Boeing introduced the 787 Dreamliner to the public with an over-the-top PR blitz.

BOEING 787 DREAMLINER AD: Prepare yourself for the future of aviation -- the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. How will you travel through life?

As it turns out this is one trip that will have to wait. Even before the latest snafu production was running more than 2 years behind schedule.

RICHARD ABOULAFIA: I think there are good reasons for concern.

Richard Aboulafia is an air-industry analyst at the Teal Group. He says Boeing's using lightweight composites, like carbon fiber, for the plane, and ultimately they will make the plane incredibly fuel efficient, but...

ABOULAFIA: The problem is that we are still in uncharted turf in terms of using them for major chunks of the aircraft.

And Boeing's own computer models have repeatedly failed to predict how these materials react under stress. Right now the company's not saying when the plane will get airborne, and some analysts are predicting Boeing won't be able to deliver the Dreamliner until 2011.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...