Boeing considers cutbacks in 777 and 787 production plans

EVERETT — The next couple of months will determine if the Boeing Co. can keep 777 production going strong through the decade’s end or if it needs to make fewer of the venerable widebody airplane, Boeing Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said Wednesday.

He also indicated that the company might not raise 787 production from 10 a month today to 14 a month in the next few years as planned.

Smith’s cautious comments at the Jefferies Industrials Conference in New York mark a change from the consistently bullish tone Boeing executives have taken when asked whether there’s enough demand for widebody airplanes to meet the company’s planned production increases.

“Over the next couple of months, we’ll know” if 777 production rate has to be pared down, he said.

Boeing currently plans to reduce 777 production from today’s 8.3 a month — or 100 a year — to 7 a month in 2018. Although, the actual delivery rate will be lower — 5.5 airplanes a month — because some of the slots on the assembly line will be filled by 777Xs, which is slated to enter service in 2020.

Some industry analysts say Boeing could reduce 777 production to as low as 4 planes a month.

There might not be enough demand to raise 787 production to 14 a month, Smith said. “We’re going to match supply and demand, and if it doesn’t play out to be 14, then we’ll adjust accordingly.”

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