Boeing has been hoping to avoid any production snafus for its new 747-8 so that it can get the plane, which has been met with a lukewarm response from airlines so far, into customer’s hands by year end in hopes of enticing future orders once the plane is in service.
But now, according to Aviation Week, Boeing is halting production for its largest commercial plane in order to make design changes and implement fixes to existing models that have been discovered during flight testing.
Boeing plans to resume normal production flow in early June, but until then the line will remain static with completion of tasks on aircraft in-situ. Some change incorporation is also expected to be completed on the 20 aircraft already assembled. Of these, seven have been used for flight testing while 13 are in storage around the delivery ramp alongside a growing number of undelivered, engineless 787s.
The temporary production freeze is widely expected to knock delivery of the first 747-8 passenger variant into early 2012, although this is due for delivery to a completion center for conversion into a corporate jet. The first passenger version for launch customer Lufthansa is due for delivery in the first quarter of 2012
The news isn’t all bad as the decision will help Boeing reach its goal of producing two 747-8s per month in 2012.
The delay is also not expected to affect first delivery of the freighter version to Cargolux by this summer nor will it affect the current certification testing but it will likely push the first passenger vairant into early 2012.