Plane maker Boeing Co said on Monday it still expected to deliver its first lightweight 787 Dreamliner aircraft on time by May 2008, despite delays to its test flight schedule.

It is still our objective to meet that May 2008 delivery but in doing that we have had to compress our flight-test schedule, Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President for Marketing, told reporters.

It is an aggressive schedule but we believe we can do it.

Tinseth said the plane was still set for its first test flight between mid-November and mid-December after a three-month delay due to a shortage of bolts and problems programming the flight control software.

The plane must complete 1,300 flight-test hours and 3,700 ground-test hours between the first flight and certification of the plane, Tinseth said, describing the schedule as challenging.

The first 787 is due to be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways.

Boeing, which competes with Airbus for the title of world's biggest plane maker, is forecasting 28,600 new air aircraft worth about US$2.8 trillion will be bought over the next 20 years on the back of rising demand for passenger travel and air cargo.

Tinseth, speaking on a visit to Australia, said Boeing now expected 580 planes worth US$73 billion would be bought in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific by 2026.

Boeing upped its forecast from 440 planes worth US$60 billion previously due to rapid growth in low-cost airlines which were bumping up orders for single-aisle planes.

He said fuel prices were expected to remain volatile, although Boeing's 20-year forecast assumed they would moderate over the next 20 years.