Boeing delivers 17 787s since FAA approval

It has been a year since aviation authorities gave their stamp of approval for the Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner, clearing the way for the jetmaker to deliver the mostly composite jet to airlines around the world.

“Receiving those documents marked a real turning point for the 787 program and was an historic milestone for the Boeing Company,” Larry Loftis, general manager of the 787 program said in a statement.

A month after the Federal Aviation Administration certified the 787, Japan’s All Nippon Airways became the first airline to receive a 787. Boeing has delivered a total of 17 Dreamliner aircraft through last Friday. Three of those deliveries were made in 2011.

“It’s been a great 12 months for the 787 team,” Loftis said. “And better yet, we see a long, bright future for this program.”

Boeing has more than 800 unfilled orders for 787 jets but still faces several challenges on the Dreamliner program.

The Chicago-based company was more than three years late in delivering that first Dreamliner to ANA because of problems with production and the global supply chain. As a result, Boeing executives say the company will need to deliver 1,100 787s before the program is profitable.

To do that, Boeing plans to accelerate Dreamliner production. Although the company has set a goal of reaching a rate of 10 787s monthly by the end of 2013, executives have hinted at going higher than 10.

The company also is working on the next version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9. Boeing expects to deliver the first 787-9, a longer range and larger version of the 787-8, in 2014. Last week, Qantas canceled an order for 35 787-9s. Some analysts, like Doug Harned at Sanford Bernstein Co., attributed the cancellation largely to the Australian carrier’s own financial woes. A Wall Street Journal article Thursday pointed to Boeing’s own tardiness in delivering the Dreamliner. Boeing’s shares dropped $1.73 to $70.36 on Thursday after the cancellation but gained back 73 cents of that decline Friday to end the week at $71.09.

In the near term, Boeing set a goal of delivering 35 to 43 787s in 2012. With only 14 787s delivered through late August, Boeing would appear to be behind its goal. However, Boeing’s chief financial officer Greg Smith said last month that Dreamliner deliveries will increase this month. Boeing is delivering both freshly produced 787s and Dreamliners that were built over the last few years and required time-consuming change work, which is being done at Everett.

“I’d say we’re tracking pretty much to plan,” Smith said in July.

Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3453; mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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