Dreamliner Down?

| Wed Jul. 22, 2009 2:38 PM EDT

The Seattle Times has the scoop that the Boeing Dreamliner "may not fly this year." The problem is pretty serious: its wings don't attach to its body safely. The New York Times' Seattle correspondent, Timothy Egan, explains (in Slate) why this matters:

[A] big story about the future of American industry, such as it is: a Seattle Times story that the 787 Dreamliner may not fly this year and could have serious troubles down the road. The implication is that it may not fly at all. One caveat: My wife works at the Seattle Times, on the editorial side, so this could sound like a homer. But it's a big deal. Why? With the auto industry in bankruptcy, people oft say: We don't make anything in this country anymore. In fact, we do. We make airlines for the world, at some of the best wages in the world. If the Dreamliner, Boeing's next edition, doesn't fly, it's a huge blow to American industrial might, or what's left of it. And it shows, perhaps, that you can't build a plane by outsourcing all its parts to factories and engineers around the world, as Boeing has tried to do.

Our own Jim Ridgeway has already raised questions about the safety of composite aircraft like the Dreamliner. If Jim's worst fears about composites are realized, Boeing could be in big trouble.