Boeing Maintains 787 Will Deliver On Schedule
Airbus SAS Chief Operating
Officer, lead salesman, and head cheerleader John Leahy wished
archrival Boeing well this week, as the American planemaker counts
down the days to when it unveils its 787 Dreamliner. But that
doesn't mean he's changed sides -- or lessened his enthusiasm for
On Monday, Leahy (right) told reporters he's heard rumors from
suppliers indicating the 787 -- scheduled for first flight by the
end of this year, with customer deliveries starting in 2008 --
could be up to six months late. But, he added, he'd prefer that not
"In this particular case, misery doesn't love company," Leahy
said, according to the Seattle Times. "We wish [Boeing] well,
to get an airplane out the door on time."
Even the most casual observer of the ongoing Airbus vs. Boeing
feud may find that statement odd, especially as Airbus deals with
highly publicized troubles in getting its A380 superjumbo into
customers' hands. The European planemaker's 787-fighter, the
A350XWB, has also been through a costly redesign, and is not
scheduled to enter service until 2013 at the earliest.
As ANN reported, those
factors conspired to drive Airbus' profits into the negative column
for 2006, dragging parent company EADS' fortunes down with it. In
response, EADS put Airbus on a drastic diet -- cutting 10,000 jobs,
and putting six plants on the auction block.
Leahy's show of support is similar to a football coach praising
the opposing team, just before the Super Bowl. It's called the
"psyche-out" -- and is often followed by some critique of problems
the other team may encounter.
"Despite our extensive experience in delaying aircraft programs,
we don't have any particular inside knowledge" about the 787
program, Leahy joked with reporters at this week's International
Society of Transport Aircraft Trading. "But if you talk with
suppliers, most people are talking about up to a six-month delay as
Boeing has maintained that, despite production snags encountered
by various suppliers, the 787 (shown above) remains on schedule.
Boeing Chief Financial Officer James Bell reaffirmed last week the
plane would be delivered on-time.
Leahy also tried to downplay fears the A350 XWB wouldn't be able
to match the 787 in the marketplace.
"It's no more tentative a program than the 787 is," Leahy said.
"I don't think there's an airline out there that thinks the A350 is
To date, only one customer for the original A350, Finnair, as
agreed to sign on the dotted line for the new plane. Leahy said he
expects nearly all the A350's original customers to come around,
though, noting Airbus has set aside money to offset the price
difference between the old and new planes -- all-but-guaranteeing
airlines will be able to purchase the XWB at their lower original
If those customers agree to order the XWB, that would give
Airbus about 100 orders for the A350 XWB; Boeing is nearing the
500-order mark for the 787.
Despite the present turmoil at Airbus, as well as a heart scare
in November, Leahy says he remains committed to the manufacturer he
has spent the last 22 years with.
"A lot depends on what the Mayo Clinic says," he replied.
"Assuming my health is good, I have no immediate plans to go