Boeing's 747-8 risks an additional delay

SEATTLE — Boeing Co.'s plan to ship the first of its newest jumbo jets by mid-2011 as part of the "Year of the 747" risks another delay that would add to the 18-month setback for the plane, two analysts said.

The 747-8 "may miss its 'near midyear' delivery target by 6-8 weeks due to minor 'issues,' " Cai Von Rumohr, a Cowen & Co. analyst in Boston, wrote in a recent note to investors. JPMorgan Chase's Joseph Nadol said the same day he also sees a possible delay for the plane.

While Chicago-based Boeing's timeline calls for the 747-8 to reach its launch customer in mid-2011 and for the 787 Dreamliner's initial delivery by September, the 787 is ahead of the jumbo jet in Federal Aviation Administration testing. The Dreamliner is running more than three years late.

"The 747-8 has flown under the radar," Nadol wrote. He said the jet may attract more attention during Boeing's investor meetings, which started Monday in Seattle, "and not necessarily of the good kind."

Boeing expects to meet its midyear delivery goal, said a spokesman, Jim Proulx. The 747-8, the fifth variant of the 41-year-old jumbo jet, stretches the iconic hump on top and features new engines and a longer wing.