Boeing Is Going to Be Late on the 8

I've got good news and bad news for Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) investors. Good news first: There's no bad news about the 787 Dreamliner. (As they say, no news is good news.) But the bad news: I can't say the same about the 787's taller twin.

As you know, Boeing's got two big plane arrivals set for this year. The 787 is the one that's been getting all the press, what with its novel composite skin, fuel-saving sippiness, and "most successful airplane ever" reputation. But Boeing used much of the same tech to revamp its 747 line of superjumbo aircraft, and the first result of this -- the 747-8 -- is due to begin landing on tarmacs "midyear."

Mid-what-year, exactly?
Don't hold your breath. "Midyear" is barely a month away. But according to JPMorgan Chase and Cowen & Co., the 747 could experience a six- to eight-week delay in arrival. In theory, Boeing is supposed to begin delivering 747s three months before the 787 touches down in September. But in fact, the 787 is ahead of the 747 in the FAA certification process.

With only 75% of its FAA tests passed versus 95% for the 787, it's unlikely the 747-8 will leapfrog its sibling and arrive on time. Fortunately, few folks will notice. Boeing may have upset high-profile customers  Delta (NYSE: DAL  ) , AMR (NYSE: AMR  ) , and United Continental (NYSE: UAL  ) with its repeated delays. The 747-8, in contrast, is mainly a "back office" plane, destined for service at freight haulers like Cargolux and Nippon Cargo. As such, its delay is unlikely to upset as many fliers, or garner as much bad press.

Foolish takeaway
Boeing's denials notwithstanding, a 747-8 delay seems all but certain. But while a delay here isn't exactly "good" news, it could have been worse.

Stay up to speed on 787 and 747-8 developments. Add Boeing to your Watchlist today.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.


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  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2011, at 10:53 PM, jammer13 wrote:

    You may end up being correct, but your analysis is flawed. The 747-8 is a derivative plane. The 787 is a brand new design. A new design requires a significantly larger number of test points for an FAA certification than a derivative. Comparing percentages is not a valid analsis; you would have to assess to ctual number of test points.

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