I posted an article in November 2008 about American Airlines announcement that it would purchase 42 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with delivery to start in 2012. Now, we have no idea when, or if, that delivery will take place.

Although Boeing executives had announced that the first test flight of the 787 would take place before June 30, they had to retract that statement this week, announcing instead that the “first flight of the 787 Dreamliner will be postponed due to a need to reinforce an area within the side-of-body section of the aircraft.”

When will that first flight take place? Bowing was vague in its reply, “First flight and first delivery will be rescheduled following the final determination of the required modification and testing plan. It will be several weeks before the new schedule is available.”

Boeing originally planned for the Dreamliner to have its first flight in 2007 and enter service in 2008. Now, we can only hope that that they will achieve first flight in 2009. A Dreamliner video on Boeing’s website still says the first flight will take place in May 2009. In the meantime, The A-380, the massive new aircraft from Boeing’s biggest competitor, Airbus, is already in service with several airlines around the world.

The 787 is the hottest selling commercial airliner ever, even though it has never flown. How amazing is that? Imagine Ford having the largest selling car before the first model of it ever left the factory; that is basically what happened with the 787. But now with the continuing delays in production, orders may fall. Qanatas has already announced that it is canceling an order for 15 787s, and postponing delivery of 15 more for four years.

For me, this is a sad day. The 787 was truly a next-generation aircraft, unlike anything now flying. It would be more fuel efficient, make less noise, and create less pollution than any commercial aircraft now flying. The cabin would be more comfortable than any current aircraft. The seats would be more comfortable, the overhead bins larger. It would be the first commercial aircraft to be substantially built from carbon fiber rather than aluminum.

Now, some wonder if Boeing bit off more than it could chew with such a radical new design. I hope not. The 787 is such an evolutionary aircraft that I hope Boeing can resolve these issues and put the first one in the air soon. I look forward to being a passenger on one, the sooner the better