Boeing will be taking a $185 million charge from its earnings to pay for the delays in the Starliner’s next flight test. The company announced the charge during its quarterly earnings release and attributed it to the delays in the second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2).
This decision was “driven by the second Orbital Flight Test, and the latest assessment of remaining work”. OFT-2 was initially planned for August this year, however, a last-minute failure in the ship’s propulsion system meant that the flight test had to be canceled. This wasn’t the first time the Starliner couldn’t complete a flight test. In December 2019, the first unpiloted OFT ended prematurely due to software problems.
Boeing is now targeting a 2022 launch date for the second Orbital Flight Test. If all goes well, the Starliner’s first crewed flight will then follow but likely won’t take place before the end of next year.
Boeing already took a $410 million charge from its earnings from Q4 2019 after the first attempted OFT. With the additional $185 million, this brings the total up to $595 million.
Despite these costs, Boeing is still committed to the Starliner program and are following through with their plans. Boeing received a $4.2 billion contract from NASA to develop the Starliner program, so the company is completely focused on fulfilling its contract with the government.
While Boeing has had their fair share of challenges and technical hiccups when it comes to Starliner, the company is doing the right thing by taking extra measures and spending from its own budget. Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun also stated that they will “continue to prioritize the safety of our employees, crew members, and spacecraft as we progress”.