By Kyle Peterson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Boeing Co said
Thursday it would delay first delivery of the 747-8 Freighter,
its biggest commercial jet, and its shares rose as the company
said the move would not hurt 2010 financial results.

The delay, to mid-2011 from the fourth quarter of 2010, is
the third announced by Boeing, the world's second-largest
commercial plane manufacturer after EADS unit Airbus.

The 747-8 delay was widely expected, and follows an August
announcement by Boeing that it would push back first delivery
of its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner to the first quarter of
2011.

"We had assumed that a minor delay would cost Boeing $150
million, and so the lack of a charge is somewhat odd," said
Robert Stallard, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in a
research note.

Stallard reiterated an "outperform" rating on Boeing,
noting a better outlook for commercial aircraft orders as air
traffic improves. Shares of Boeing, a Dow component, rose as
much as 3 percent on Thursday and closed up 0.9 percent at
$66.54.

Boeing said it would add a fifth airplane to its flight
test fleet to help ensure the company meets the new schedule.

Boeing took a $1 billion charge related to the 747-8 in the
third quarter of 2009 because of high production costs and
tough market conditions.

The plane flew for the first time in February. Since then,
Boeing has discovered issues, including a low-frequency
vibration under certain flight conditions.

Boeing said the problems have disrupted certification
testing but would require no structural changes to the 747
itself.

The delays to the 747 and 787 schedules have drawn
criticism from customers, who are growing tired of the
problems.

"We've expressed our disappointment to Boeing about this
development and the situation," said Dah Loh, director of
investor relations for Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings,
which has twelve 747-8 Freighters on order.

Atlas, a cargo carrier, would also "be looking at the
protection of remedies that we have in our contract with Boeing
to make sure that we get the full benefit of our agreement with
them," Loh said. Atlas Air shares fell more than 7 percent to
$50.30 Thursday.

Boeing said it was working through the issues encountered
during flight testing.

"We recognize our customers are eager to add the 747-8
Freighter to their fleets, and we understand and regret any
impact this schedule change may have on their plans to begin
service with the airplane," said Pat Shanahan, vice president
and general manager, Airplane Programs, at Boeing Commercial
Airplanes, in a statement.

The 747-8 Freighter, about 18 feet (5.5 meters) longer than
the 747-400, had been launched in November 2005 and was
originally scheduled to start delivering in the fourth quarter
of 2009.

Boeing has 76 orders for the freighter model of the 747 at
list prices between $293 million and $308 million. Boeing gets
paid by customers on delivery.

"The problem with the 747-8 delay, unlike the 787, is there
are other aircraft that can fill the short-term needs of the
customers," said Alex Hamilton, managing director at EarlyBird
Capital. "So every delay exponentially increases the chance of
cancellations."

The 747, Boeing's biggest and most recognizable aircraft,
has been in the air since 1969. The 747-8 uses new engine and
wing designs, and boasts greater fuel efficiency and lower
operating costs than the Airbus A380, its closest rival, Boeing
says.

The Freighter model can carry 16 percent more cargo than
the previous 747 model, while the Intercontinental passenger
model can carry 51 more passengers.
(Reporting by Kyle Peterson and Karen Jacobs; Editing by
Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman, Matthew Lewis and Steve
Orlofsky)