Now Boeing faces possible delays in its B787 Dreamliner programme

A delay of seven to 12 weeks in the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight has set off speculation among aviation analysts that Boeing may not be able to deliver the pioneering all-composite airliner to its first customer as scheduled next May.

Boeing executives, however, insist that they will be able to meet the timetable. They hope to speed up the flight trials by creating a larger team of test pilots, who will fly the new passenger jet round the clock.

The first flight will be seven to 12 weeks later than Boeing announced when it rolled out the jet in July, company executives told the media in a conference call on 5 September.

The present postponement comes on top of a one-month delay announced earlier.

The Dreamliner now is expected to make its first flight sometime between mid-November and mid-December, rather than at the end of September or early October. Boeing says the delay is because of temporary issues, and that there are no major flaws in the company's worldwide network of partners that supply entire sections of the jet.

But analysts are now being sceptical about Boeing's assertion that the first 787 will still be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways in May 2008. Boeing also admits that its revised schedule leaves almost no room for manoeuvre if any significant problem turns up during flight-testing.