Monday, November 29, 2010

China Eastern may cancel 787 order

China Eastern Airlines is considering canceling its order for 15 Boeing 787s owing to the aircraft program's continuous delays, according to a CEA insider. "Most probably we [will] cancel," the source told ATW. "We are negotiating with Boeing about choosing [a] replacement aircraft type…now."

The cancellation would be another blow for the troubled Dreamliner program, on which flight testing was indefinitely suspended following a Nov. 9 inflight fire that began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc on the P100 electrical panel, according to Boeing. The manufacturer is widely expected to delay first delivery to ANA, currently slated for the 2011 first quarter, by another six to nine months.

On Nov. 24, Boeing said it was developing "minor design changes" to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane. It added that a revised 787 program schedule "is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks."

Bernstein Research has moved its projection for the first delivery of the 787 back six months to August 2011 and forecasts that Boeing will only deliver eight aircraft in 2011 instead of the 29 it had planned. Bernstein believes that Boeing will deliver 61 787s in 2012, 78 in 2013 and 107 in 2014.

CEA placed its Dreamliner order in 2005. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Shanghai Airlines, also has nine 787s on order; it is unclear whether CEA will cancel SAL's 787 orders if it decides to axe its own.

CEA is planning an aggressive expansion of international services starting next year, and had planned to facilitate the growth in part through the addition of the 15 Dreamliners. It ordered 16 Airbus A330s at the end of last year to ensure it could expandeven if the 787s arrived later than expected. The A330s are expected to be delivered from 2011-2014. CEA General Manager Ma Xulun told ATW the carrier will operate the aircraft on routes to Europe.

(Katie Cantle - Air Transport World / ATWOnline News)

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