Production Likely To Increase Over Earlier Projections
Rumors of our delays have been greatly exaggerated. That's the
message Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Scott Carson and 787
program manager Mike Bair had for reporters and investors Monday.
Both men said the company intends to roll out the first 787 in
early July -- 07/08/07 (get it?) -- with first flight sometime
in late August. The company remains on track to deliver the first
customer Dreamliner in 2008.
In the update -- coinciding, likely not by chance, with the American debut of rival Airbus' A380 on US
soil -- Bair said Boeing will likely increase
production of the aircraft in the future. That's not in response to
the nearly 500 orders Boeing now has on the books, Bair said -- but
rather comes in light of the potential for "three times as many"
orders now under consideration by several airlines.
Bair added the planemaker remains cautious of ramping up
production rates, and that any such increase would occur following
the first two years of initial production. Customer response to the
airliner has been "surprising" even to Boeing, Bair said, and
currently the plane is sold out through 2013.
Bair also took pains to reassure investors the airliner's
composite structure is proving workable. Major assembly work and
testing of several large components of "plane one" has been
completed at Boeing's facility in Everett, WA.
"The quality of the composite parts is better than we expected,"
Bair said. "The airplane is about 98% designed. We've implemented
designs on the parts that need to be redesigned." Bair also noted
Boeing's effort to trim weight and increase efficiency appear to
have paid off, as after weighing components that make up about 1/4
of a completed Dreamliner, Boeing found the plane is coming in
"lighter than we expected."
Perhaps in response to comments made last week by Airbus COO
John Leahy -- who hinted to as much as asix-month delay in the Dreamliner
program, citing comments made by unnamed suppliers --
Bair reiterated some systems work originally planned to be handled
by contractors was brought in-house for the first aircraft, after
those companies experienced problems.
"That's not a problem if they say, "we need help," Bair said,
adding the plane remains on its original development schedule.
Boeing expects those issues to be resolved by the time production
In a subtle "dig" against the A380, Bair added "we don't
anticipate any big issues with wiring."