Boeing Co. has begun to ramp up the build rate of its 787 Dreamliner as it also looks to start a second assembly line for the new airliner in 2012.
Jim McNerney, chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the Chicago-based aerospace giant has increased production on the 787 to 2.5 per month from two previously. The plane’s only final assembly facility is in Everett, Wash., but a second 787 assembly line in North Charleston, S.C.—a key component in the company’s plan to raise the build rate to 10 per month by the end of 2013—is on track to make its first delivery next year, McNerney said during an investors’ telephone conference call. Boeing’s "clear priority is executing the ramp-up and production" of its commercial programs, McNerney said. After a delay of more than three years, Boeing last month delivered the first two 787s to Japan’s All Nippon Airways.
Moreover, the first two freighter versions of the 747-8, the newest variant of its oldest wide-body airliner, were delivered to Cargolux Airlines International of Luxembourg earlier this month. Asked what impact a further delay of a "quarter or two" in reaching the Dreamliner’s peak build rate would have on the company’s bottom line, McNerney said that if it did slip by that much he didn’t believe it would have a "significant implication" on Boeing’s profitability, an opinion seconded by James Bell, Boeing’s chief financial officer. Boeing, which is reworking several already-built 787s to incorporate design and engineering changes, expects to deliver 15 to 20 787s and 747-8s this year vs. earlier forecasts of 25 to 30, of which no more than seven will be 787s. While McNerney observed that global air cargo demand has declined in recent months, Boeing expects "order traffic for our current production programs to remain strong through year end." He pointed out that the company booked 310 orders for its existing 737 model through the third quarter, while it also saw "exceptionally strong" demand for its 777 twin-aisle airliner, 177 of which were ordered in the first nine months of the year. Seattle-based Boeing Commercial Airplanes is raising 737 output from 31.5 planes per month currently to 35 in early 2012, 38 per month in the second quarter of 2013 and 42 per month in the first half of 2014. The 777’s build rate was increased to seven planes per month from five in the second quarter, with plans to reach 8.3 per month in the first quarter of 2013.
Boeing announced a re-engined version of its top selling 737, called the "Max," during the third quarter, and it has already received nearly 500 order commitments. Delivery is due to start in 2017.Boeing posted third-quarter net income of nearly $1.1 billion, up 31.2 percent from $837 million in the same period last year on revenue that rose 4.5 percent to $17.73 billion from $16.97 billion. Nine-month net income jumped 22.5 percent to nearly $2.63 billion from $2.14 billion a year earlier on a 3-percent increase in sales to $49.18 billion from $47.76 billion.