© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ceremony marking 1st delivery of Boeing 737 Max airplane to Air China in Zhoushan

LE BOURGET, France (Reuters) – Boeing (NYSE:) said on Monday engine issues were the key factor to be resolved in the development of its new 777X aircraft, but that the plane was performing well as it moves towards a flight test later this year.

“The long pole in the tent remains engine issues,” Boeing commercial airplanes boss Kevin McAllister said of General Electric’s GE9X engine.

GE Aviation said earlier it had found excess wear on a compression part on the GE9X engine developed for the all-new 777X twin-jet, forcing it to redesign the part.

The part will not be ready for months and no airplane will fly without the retrofitted part, GE said.

McAllister said he was “staying very close to the situation” but that it was premature to make any predictions on timing delays for the program. Boeing says it is targeted a 2020 entry to service, but Emirates says it expects the first plane in June that year – after flight tests expected to take 14 months.

McAllister said Boeing would apply lessons learned from the grounding of the 737 MAX crisis but would not speculate when it would return to service.

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2019-06-17