In a year, 25 Dreamliners — and more to come

EVERETT — Boeing Co. Dreamliners don’t exactly fill the skies a year after the first 787 was delivered here, but they’re growing more numerous.

Despite rain at Paine Field that day and after years of delays, Boeing and 787 launch customer All Nippon Airways celebrated the first delivery of a Dreamliner jet a year ago.

“I can’t wait to see the day when the skies of the world are filled with 787s,” Shinichiro Ito, chief executive of ANA, said through a translator, at the ceremony on Sept. 26, 2011.

Boeing and ANA signed delivery paperwork on Sept. 25, 2011. But Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, noted on his blog Tuesday that Sept. 26 “will always be the day that I and thousands of others will always remember.”

Over the past year, Boeing has delivered 25 Dreamliners to six customers. Three of those deliveries were in 2011, 22 this year. There are hundreds of 787 deliveries to come. Boeing says it has more than 800 orders from 58 customers.

Around the world, airlines are flying about 50 flights a day using 787s. You can add one more the the list starting Monday, when ANA will launch the first 787 passenger flights out of Seattle, the closest airport to Everett, where the 787s now in commercial service were built.

Everett isn’t the only site where 787s are assembled, of course. This week Boeing will hand over the first Dreamliner assembled in North Charleston, S.C. That 787 will go to Air India, which already has two Everett-built 787s.

With 13 787s on hand, ANA is the largest operator of a fleet of Dreamliners. Besides ANA and Air India, Boeing has delivered 787s to Japan Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and LAN of Chile. Last week, United Airlines became the first North American carrier to receive a 787.

“All of our 787 customers have been an integral part of making the 787 a success,” Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Aircraft, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are committed to each of them as they put the Dreamliner into service.”

Boeing executives have committed to delivering between 35 and 42 787s in 2012. Carriers like Qatar, LOT Polish Airways and China Southern are expected to see 787 deliveries this year.

As it did a year ago, the pressure is still on Boeing to deliver. A month after handing over ANA’s first 787, Boeing revealed that it would need to sell and build 1,100 Dreamliners to break even on the program.

To reach that milestone, Boeing is increasing production. The company is now at a rate of 3.5 jets per month between Everett and North Charleston, a rate that is to increase to five monthly by year’s end. The company activated a temporary 787 production line, or “surge” line, in Everett last month. Next year, the company wants to double the output, bringing production to 10 aircraft per month.

Cancellations of 787s have outpaced new orders in 2012, partly due to the long lead time to get a Dreamliner. In August, Qantas walked away from an order for 35 787-9s as part of the Australian carrier’s financial recovery plan. But carriers with 787s in service, like Japan Airlines and ANA, have added more Dreamliner orders.

“We are grateful for the support and confidence that ANA has placed in Boeing as the launch customer of the 787 Dreamliner,” Conner said Tuesday.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: 425-339-3454 or mdunlop@heraldnet.com.

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