Boeing endures another bump in the ride toward its new plane deliveries

The aerospace giant was supposed to be celebrating its first 747-8 Freighter delivery this week.

Crosscut archive image.

An image Boeing released while announcing a 2007 deal with Cargolux for 747-8 Freighters.

The aerospace giant was supposed to be celebrating its first 747-8 Freighter delivery this week.

This Monday (Sept. 19) was supposed to be a good day for Boeing. Instead, it is another in a depressing run of troubles for the aerospace company.

The day was supposed to be marked by the delivery of the first 747-8 Freighter to Cargolux, the launch customer of the latest and largest version of the venerable 747. There was supposed to be a great celebration on Tuesday and the delivery of a second airplane on Wednesday (Sept. 21). Now all that is off, and a Friday event planned for Luxembourg was reported to be "highly unlikely."

It is all very hush-hush with talk about the reasons why flying around the industry. FlightGlobal, one of the largest providers of news and information on the aerospace industry, said Monday, for example, that the current freighter dispute is linked to long-standing issues between Boeing and Qatar Airways over compensation for delays in delivery of the new 787 Dreamliner. Qatar recently purchased a 35 percent share of Cargolux and has ordered 60 Dreamliners from Boeing.

There are also performance issues with the airplane on weight and fuel burn, but those have been known for quite some time. A Boeing spokesman recently said that “we will continue to work with our partner, GE, to create more efficiency and value for our customers, including a performance improvement package.”

Boeing is quiet about the freighter dispute with Cargolux. Jim Proulx, who handles 747 communications for the Boeing Commercial Airplane division, said in a brief statement: “Due to unresolved contractual issues between Boeing and its customer Cargolux, we will not deliver the first 747-8 Freighter to the airline Sept. 19 as previously announced. We continue to work with Cargolux and look forward to delivering its airplanes soon.” Bob Dahl, managing director of Seattle-based Air Cargo Management Group, said he knew of nothing specific holding up the delivery, adding “but there are often disputes when deliveries are late.”

The freighter's delivery was originally scheduled for the third quarter of 2009, making it two years late. Qatar has been a vocal critic of the delays in the 787 program. “They tend to be tough negotiators,” one source said.

On Monday, Boeing's stock price on the NYSE fell by $1.23, or 1.88 percent, closing at $64.15 per share.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Stephen H. Dunphy

Stephen H. Dunphy

Stephen H. Dunphy writes on business and economic issues for Crosscut. He was a business editor and columnist for a number of years at The Seattle Times.