Boeing calls 787 goal for 2014 within reach

  • Sat Sep 20th, 2014 8:28pm

By Dan Catchpole Herald Writer

EVERETT — Boeing says it is on track to hit its goal of delivering 110 787 Dreamliners this year.

Doing so, however, will require a couple of busy months this fall, as the company will have to deliver slightly more than 10 per month to meet the target.

Through August, the airplane maker had delivered 8.6 airplanes a month this year. But Boeing picked up the pace this summer, delivering an average of 12 Dreamliners a month in June, July and August, according to data on the company’s website.

One airplane that could soon be delivered is the first 787-8 for Avianca, the flag carrier of Colombia. The plane is parked on the flight line at the Everett Delivery Center at Paine Field, where Boeing hands the keys to airlines and lessors buying aircraft.

Boeing’s announcement that it was increasing Dreamliner production to 10 a month — seven in Everett and three in North Charleston, South Carolina — grabbed headlines. But if the company hits the delivery target, it will likely get muted reaction.

“Nobody’s going to care if they meet target, because that’s what they are expected to do,” said Scott Hamilton, an aerospace analyst with Issaquah-based Leeham Co.

As long as Boeing delivers close to 110 Dreamliners, industry watchers and investment analysts will be satisfied, he said. “Whether it’s 110 or 105 or 112, it doesn’t really matter. If they miss it, it won’t be by much.”

In August, Boeing slowed its two 787 assembly lines in Everett. The company said that was part of a production plan developed two years ago. It expected disruptions from increasing the production rate in January to 10 Dreamliners a month and from adding a new version to the line, the 787-9.

“The days in August were part of our program plan,” Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said. “They served their purpose and we continue to see improvements as we stabilize at our production rate of 10 per month.”

Several Boeing employees told The Daily Herald that the slowdown was the result of sub-standard parts from suppliers and sloppy or unfinished work being passed down the line, often from the 787 factory in South Carolina.

Either way, Boeing “is throwing money and people at these problems to either fix or work around them,” Hamilton said.

Orders for the 787 slowed this year. Boeing has received 33 orders to date, according to data on its website and news releases.

The program’s backlog was at 865 at the beginning of the month.

Boeing has said it plans to increase production to 12 Dreamliners a month in 2016 and then 14 per month by the end of the decade. But the additional work will go to the company’s South Carolina facility, according to company executives.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.