By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer
A new 787 wiring problem pushed Boeing shares down nearly 2 percent Wednesday, but a company executive was upbeat about the Dreamliner’s future.
“We’re just going to continue to focus on (787) reliability and dispatch rates with our customers,” said Greg Smith, Boeing’s chief financial officer.
Smith’s remarks at a Jefferies Global Industrials Conference in New York were webcast Wednesday not long after the 787’s launch customer, All Nippon Airways, reported wiring problems found in three 787s fire-suppression systems. Boeing’s stock closed Wednesday down $2.07, at $104.16.
Boeing and 787 operators have faced a variety of challenges with the jet this year. Federal aviation officials grounded the Dreamliner for three months over battery failures. Last month, an emergency beacon on a 787 operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire while the jet was parked at London’s Heathrow Airport. And in late July, Qatar Airways removed a 787 from commercial service for more than a week for an unspecified issue.
Smith said the company is using its monitoring system to minimize disruptions to 787 customers. The Chicago-based jet maker tracks the performance of 787s in commercial service.
Despite the Dreamliner’s troubles, Boeing plans to deliver more than 60 787s this year. With 24 Dreamliner deliveries through the end of July, Smith said, “it’s all going to be about (quarter) three and four 787 deliveries.”
Boeing’s CFO was upbeat about the progress in 787 production, noting the quality coming from 787 suppliers has improved by 40 percent from the 60th 787 assembled to the 100th.
“We obviously are very diligently focused tail number by tail number to get the planes out,” he said.
Smith noted the latest version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, is “progressing well.” Boeing is expected to begin flight testing the 787-9 later this summer and deliver the first aircraft by mid-2014.