The numbers varied, but the hot tip earlier this morning was that up to 12 Airbus A330s will be added to the Jetstar fleet by late 2010 or early 2011 to replace the 787 capacity Boeing has failed to deliver according to any of its past broken promises.

This was followed by another hot tip that this wasn’t so. No extra A330s. Nothing. Nada, and so forth. The official comment from Qantas is that ‘there is no comment.’

So this post has been amended accordingly, as above, pending whatever actions Qantas takes.

However one thing that has emerged from various sources is that in its review of the state of the 787 program Qantas doesn’t see a jet that will be competitive against the A330s until perhaps 2013, and that could be either a 787 which has benefited from essential improvements over the current indications of Dreamliner capabilities or the all new Airbus A350.

The A330 is benefiting from the 787 situation. Virgin Atlantic snapped up 10 of the A330-300 model earlier this week to cover its position after assessing that the Boeing 787-9, the stretched and improved version of the 787-8 that suffered premature wing join failure in April, was never going to be delivered as promised in 2011 and 2012.

Virgin Atlantic remains officially committed to the 787-9 but is also negotiating a large order for A350s for later in the next decade.

Boeing, meanwhile, has set itself a task of coming clean within a few weeks on how, and when, it will fix the side-of-plane, oops, wing delamination issue it finally admitted to earlier this week when it cancelled the intended first flight of the 787 prototype only days after its senior management insisted at the Paris Air Show that it was going ahead as planned.

Side-of-jet, er, wing issue explained: Flightblogger has just posted a detailed explanation of what went wrong in April when the wing on one of two static test 787s was stressed to between 120-130% of maximum design load, apparently on the way to reaching the certification requirement of meeting a stress level of 150% of that value.

Last night Plane Talking received confirmation that the fault Boeing discovered in April cannot be patched as easily as suggested by the company without testing that establishes beyond doubt that once patched weaknesses will not appear further out toward the middle wing and wing tip areas.

This issue, so lightly air brushed by Boeing when it cancelled the first flight, is turning into a very large question mark over the future direction and timing of the program.

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