EVERETT, Wash. - Boeing Co. said Thursday it has finished fixing structural flaws in the first of its long-delayed 787 jetliners. The problem forced the company to postpone test-flying the jet for a fifth time earlier this year.
The Chicago-based airplane maker said the repair to the plane's side-of-body section is "a significant step" toward the first test flight of the aircraft, which has been delayed because of a series of production glitches and a two-month labor strike late last year.
Boeing has postponed the plane's inaugural test flight and deliveries five times, putting it more than two years behind schedule. The company reiterated that it plans to fly the 787 for the first time by the end of 2009.
"Completing this work is a significant step toward first flight," Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program, said in a statement.
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The company remains confident the first flight of the 787 will occur before the end of the year, he said.
Repeated delays of the 787 have cost Boeing credibility and billions of dollars in anticipated expenses and penalties.
The 787 is built for fuel efficiency with lightweight carbon composite parts. Boeing says it will be more efficient and quieter and have lower emissions than other airplanes. The midsize plane also will have wider seats and aisles, and larger windows.
Boeing has taken a new approach to building airplanes with the 787, relying on suppliers around the world to build huge sections of the plane that are later assembled at its commercial aircraft plant in Everett, Wash.
But that approach so far has proved problematic, with ill-fitting parts and other problems hampering production.
Shares of Boeing slipped 40 cents to close at $50.28.