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Dreamliner gets a trophy, but airlines tire of waiting

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 15, 2012
A Boeing 787 in Air India colours visited Hyderabad this week. Air India has demanded compensation from Boeing over delayed deliveries of 787 and other aircraft. (Boeing)

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has won the 2011 Collier Trophy, capping a year that saw the heavily hyped aeroplane finally enter commercial service but continue to face production snags.

The Collier Trophy, an annual award presented by the US National Aeronautics Association, recognises “the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.” First awarded in 1911, past winners of the trophy have included Orville Wright, the crew of Apollo 11 and Boeing’s 747 and 777 airliners.

“The men and women of Boeing, working with our partners around the world, poured their hearts into designing, building and delivering the 787 Dreamliner,” Boeing CEO Jim Albaugh said in a statement. “It was a long and sometimes difficult journey.  We’re deeply honoured to receive this award.”

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The carbon composite built 787 promises a 20 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency, and its appeal to airlines facing spiralling fuel costs has given it a buzz rivalled by few other aircraft in recent history. To date, Boeing says, 868 787s have been ordered by 60 customers.

But the 787 has faced a long series of production delays and setbacks. Launch customer All Nippon Airlines began commercial service with the aircraft in October, about 40 months later than originally scheduled. Last month, Boeing said it would be forced to fix a flawed section of the rear fuselage of already assembled 787s, though it said the problem would not hamper plans to ramp up production.

Further delays would be certain to anger airlines already frustrated by the slow pace of 787 production. Air India this week said it was seeking nearly $1 billion in compensation from Boeing over delayed deliveries.  The airline said Boeing had agreed to a $500 million pay-out, a claim Boeing disputed.

Air India expects to take delivery of seven 787s over the next year. Boeing dispatched an Air India- liveried 787 to Hyderabad this week for the India Aviation 2012 airshow.

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