The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep ...
-- Robert Frost

Mr. Frost isn't the only one with promises to keep. Last week, Boeing (NYSE: BA) made a promise of its own. Two and a half years after it was supposed to deliver the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways (ANA) in Japan, Boeing has confirmed that the plane will in fact arrive in February 2011. Honest. We mean it this time. Finally. No more hemming and hawing. This time Boeing will deliver for ANA.

And only ANA.

As luck would have it, around about the same time Boeing was promising to seal the deal with ANA, it has apparently been backtracking with almost everybody else. According to an Aviation Week story that ran over the weekend, Boeing's been running 'round the airline industry, telling other buyers of the plane, who thought their wait was over, that it's only just begun.

Between design changes necessitated as the 787 undergoes testing, and postproduction tweaks to planes already built, it looks like some deliveries could be postponed anywhere from three to 10 months past their most recent promised delivery dates. So far, American buyers appear largely unaffected by the delays, so that's good news for United Continental (NYSE: UAL) and AMR (NYSE: AMR). Delta (NYSE: DAL), as we discussed last week, could care less. It postponed on its own last month. For the time being, most Dreamliner flight delays are concentrated in Asia, as Boeing tells Air India, Korea Air, and Japan Airlines to cool their jets.

But now, we hear another problem could be cropping up because of supplier infighting. Yesterday, Barron's mentioned that key 787 supplier United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) is suing to have another 787 supplier -- Rolls-Royce -- banned from importing Trent 1000 engines to the U.S. for assembly on the 787. UTC alleges the engine infringes on Pratt & Whitney's patents. For its part, Rolls is allied with General Electric (NYSE: GE) in contesting UTC on a separate dispute concerning the building of engines for Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT) F-35 fighter jet.

It's all very messy, very complicated, and none of it will make it any easier for Boeing to keep its promises next year. Or help Boeing investors sleep easy at night.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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