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Boeing Delays First Dreamliner Flight

The move shouldn't affect the delivery schedule for the plane, the company says.
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The first flight of the

Boeing

(BA) - Get Boeing Company Report

787 Dreamliner has been pushed from September into October.

The delay, however, shouldn't affect the first delivery of the plane, Boeing said Friday. All Nippon Airways of Japan is scheduled to receive the first Dreamliner order at the end of May.

"We don't expect this to impact entry into service one bit," says Boeing spokeswoman Liz Verdier. "When it flies doesn't affect when it goes into service. So what if

the flight goes into October? We always put cushions in."

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Boeing has won 683 firm orders for Dreamliner, the highest number of advance orders in its history. On a July conference call, CEO Jim McNerney said the first flight was targeted for the end of September, about a month later than originally expected.

But McNerney hinted that the flight could slip into October, saying, "We feel we could still deliver the plane on time even if we pushed a little beyond (the end of September)."

To ensure on-time delivery, Boeing boosted its 2007 research-and-development forecast to about $3.7 billion, up from between $3.2 billion and $3.4 billion. On the call, Chief Financial Officer James Bell said the additional spending was needed "to protect schedules, provide supplier support and continue weight-reduction efforts."

The

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

, which first reported the delay Friday, said that it is taking more time than expected to get critical flight-control systems and software up and running on the plane and "talking" with the other systems. Even before the latest delay, the paper said, Boeing had an aggressive program to flight-test the aircraft and have it certified by regulators.

Typically, late aircraft deliveries require payments to customers.

Boeing shares were trading down $3.10, or 3.2%, to $95.20 on Friday.