April 9, 2008 / 3:19 PM / 12 years ago

TIMELINE: Boeing's bumpy 787 program

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N) announced the third major delay on its 787 Dreamliner on Wednesday, putting the revolutionary, carbon composite aircraft about 15 months behind its original schedule.

The fuel-efficient plane is the most successful launch in Boeing’s history, racking up 892 orders in four years, worth more than $145 billion (73.4 billion pounds) at list prices.

But repeated delays, caused by late redesigns, underperforming suppliers and a shortage of key parts means the plane has not yet left the ground and threatens to seriously damage Boeing’s finances and reputation.

The following events show the mixed progress of the 787 program.

2002 - Boeing drops its “Sonic Cruiser” concept, responding to airlines’ calls for better fuel efficiency rather than extra speed.

June 2003 - The company dubs its new, carbon-composite airplane the “Dreamliner.”

Dec 2003 - Boeing approves an initial version of the plane, with the temporary name 7E7, the E standing for “efficiency.”

April 2004 - It officially launches the plane as Japan’s All Nippon Airways (9202.T) (ANA) orders 50.

Dec 2004 - The company ends 2004 with 56 orders for the new plane, fewer than it had expected.

Jan 2005 - Boeing gives the plane the official designation 787.

Dec 2005 - It ends 2005 with 232 orders for 787s, for a running total of 288.

July 2006 - Popularity of the 787 design forces EADS EAD.PA unit Airbus to go back to the drawing board on its competing A350, relaunching it as the A350 XWB (extra wide body).

Dec 2006 - Boeing ends 2006 with 160 orders for 787s, for a running total of 448.

Jan 2007 - Unconfirmed talk that some 787 suppliers are falling behind schedule sends Boeing shares lower. Boeing CEO Jim McNerney says the plane is on target for its first test flight around end of August 2007 and first delivery May 2008.

May 2007 - Boeing starts to put together the first 787 in Everett, Washington.

June 2007 - Reports surface at the Paris Air Show that 787 is up to four months late. Boeing says the first test flight may slip to September 2007, while still on schedule for first delivery in May 2008.

July 8, 2007 - Gleaming shell of the first 787 is rolled out in front of 15,000 ecstatic employees and customers at Everett.

July 25, 2007 - Boeing shares hit an all-time high of $107.80, boosted by strong 787 orders. The company admits the plane is running slightly behind in certain areas but holds to schedule.

Sept 2007 - Boeing puts back its first test flight by about three months because of a shortage of bolts and problems with flight control software. It also shifts its flight target to mid-November to mid-December 2007 and keeps May 2008 delivery target.

Oct 2007 - The company announces a longer delay, due to production problems, pushing the first test flight to end-March 2008 and putting back first delivery by about six months to late November or December 2008.

Oct 2007 - 787 program head Mike Bair is replaced by Pat Shanahan from Boeing’s defence unit

Dec 2007 - Boeing says 787 is sticking to its revised schedule, ends the year with 369 orders for the plane in 2007, for a running total of 817.

Jan 2008 - After two weeks of rumours, Boeing announces a further three-month delay due to problems with unnamed suppliers and slow assembly progress at the Everett plant. It also pushes back test flight to end-June 2008 and first delivery to early 2009, making the plane about nine months behind its original schedule.

March 2008 - Boeing shares hit a two-year low of $71.59. The company admits it had to redesign centre wing box to make it stronger.

April 2008 - Announces third major delay due to continuing problems with unfinished work from suppliers. It sets the first test flight for the fourth quarter of 2008 and first delivery for the third quarter of 2009, about 15 months behind the original schedule.

Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Derek Caney

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