Analysts predict 747-8 delay

Boeing, whose engineers are redesigning a part on the new 747-8 jumbo jet, may announce a fourth financial charge for the aircraft and another delay that could make it almost two years late.

That announcement may include a delay of another 3 months to 10 months for a plane that’s more than a year behind, nine analysts said in a Bloomberg survey. Eight of the analysts also anticipate a charge ranging from $100 million to $1 billion, on top of the $2.04 billion in charges already taken.

“This is inexcusable. They should know that airplane like any airplane they’ve ever built, and then some,” said Howard Rubel, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in New York who has a “buy” rating on Boeing shares. “They’ll figure it out eventually. I just believe the cost and the delay will detract from what they wanted to accomplish.”

The Chicago-based company is completing the 747-8’s schedule as it continues to work through two of several issues that came up in flight testing, and it plans to update customers and investors soon, said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh.

Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said in July that the 747-8’s schedule was more at risk than the composite-plastic Dreamliner’s, which the company pushed back last month, saying it wouldn’t be delivered until the first quarter of 2011. Both planes were supposed to reach customers by the end of this year.

The analysts in the survey predicted, on average, a six-month delay for the 747-8 and a charge against earnings of about $360 million.