In Paris the Dreamliner was already two years late – and then engineers found separations in layers of plastic where the 787 fuselage meets the wing.
Boeing reinforced the wing joint with titanium, and the Dreamliner flew its much-anticipated three-hour test over Washington State on December 15, almost six months later.
The rocky start cost Boeing the chance to exploit Airbus’s fumbles with its A350 wide-body plane, A380 superjumbo jet and A400M military transport.
Shenyang Aircraft, a unit of Aviation Industry Corp. of China, builds the fuselage, giving China experience in composites. Commercial Aircraft of China’s 168-seat C919 is due in 2016.
Referring to China’s expertise, consultant Demisch says, “By the end of the decade, Boeing and Airbus will pay the price.”
Bloomberg.com quotes Jim McNerney summing up the problem: “The Chinese are coming. The cozy world of just the two of us – Airbus and Boeing – is almost over.”