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Boeing CEO isn't sweating 787 delays

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By Michelle Dunlop
Herald Writer
Published:
EVERETT — The recently announced delay of its 787 jet program doesn't signal a significant flaw in the Boeing Co. or its Dreamliner, the company's chief executive said Tuesday.
"I'm disappointed that we've had a stutter step," said Boeing's chief executive, Jim McNerney. "But it doesn't fundamentally change my view of Boeing's competitive position or where we're going to end up."
Speaking to investors at the Morgan Stanley conference in California, McNerney reiterated the message conveyed by Boeing officials last week: The company's 787 jetliner will be delivered on time next May despite several months' delay of the plane's first flight. McNerney will check in personally on Boeing's new baby, visiting the Puget Sound region today.
The planemaker's CEO noted that problems with the 787's software, supplied by Honeywell, could have been found days, perhaps a few weeks, sooner — still not enough time to make much of a difference in getting the Dreamliner in the air.
Muddled up work coming from Boeing's major Dreamliner partners also played a part in pushing back the 787's first flight, which kicks off the plane's flight-test program.
Suppliers from around the world provide major sections of the Dreamliner, which goes through final assembly in Everett. Eventually, the main assemblies will be delivered complete with wiring. Several had to send their sections for the first airplane with temporary fasteners installed due to a shortage of fasteners.
"We discovered that things that were supposed to be in the plane weren't," McNerney said.
By pushing back the first flight, Boeing condensed its schedule for flight testing, when the company proves to aviation authorities that its jet is safe to fly. The company faces running an around-the-clock flight-test program if it intends to deliver the first Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways of Japan in May.
"Is there room for glitches at this point?" McNerney said. "No."
However, Boeing originally planned for a shorter certification plan than announced, he said.
Looking forward, McNerney doesn't expect the flight-test delay to dampen Boeing's place in the market either with the 787 or with future aircraft. Rival Airbus has a mostly composite aircraft, like the 787, in the works. The A350 seems aimed more at Boeing's 777 than at the 787, but Airbus's new jet won't be out until 2013.
In the meantime, Boeing will continue to hone its experience with using composites as company officials like McNerney ponder a response to the A350.
"We have a huge customer base that I think will work with us as we react," he said.
McNerney's comments came on the same day competitor Airbus released its commercial jet order and delivery tally through the first eight months of 2007.
Airbus had taken a lead in total orders over Boeing during the Paris Air Show but relinquished that lead in August. The European company lists 713 jet orders through the end of August, compared with 773 by Boeing over the same period.
Beside maintaining its sales lead of the more profitable widebody jets, Boeing also took the lead in airplane deliveries with 295 jets delivered over eight months compared with 294 jets delivered by Airbus.
Boeing's stock price rose $2.11 Tuesday to close at $97.44.
Reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.that were supposed to be in the plane weren't and things that were (supposed to be there) weren't," McNerney said.
By pushing back the first flight, Boeing condensed its schedule for flight testing, when the company proves to aviation authorities that its jet is safe to fly. The company faces running an around-the-clock flight test program if it intends to deliver the first Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways of Japan in May.
"Is there room for glitches at this point?" McNerney said. "No."
However, Boeing originally planned for a shorter certification plan than announced, he said.
Looking forward, McNerney doesn't expect the flight test delay to dampen Boeing's place in the market either with the 787 or with future aircraft. Rival Airbus has a mostly composite aircraft, like the 787, in the works. The A350 seems aimed more at Boeing's 777 than at the 787, but Airbus's new jet won't be out until 2013.
In the meantime, Boeing will continue to hone its experience with using composites as company officials like McNerney ponder a response to the A350.
"We have a huge customer base that I think will work with us as we react," he said.
McNerney's comments came on the same day competitor Airbus released its commercial jet order and delivery tally through the first eight months of 2007.
Airbus had taken a lead in total orders over Boeing during the Paris Air Show but relinquished that lead in August. The European company lists 713 jet orders through the end of August, compared to 773 by Boeing over the same period.
Beside maintaining its sales lead of the more profitable widebody jets, Boeing also took the lead in airplane deliveries with 295 jets delivered over eight months compared to 294 jets delivered by Airbus.
Boeing's stock price rose $2.11 Tuesday to close at $97.44.
Reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com
Story tags » Boeing777787Airbus

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