Low on margin, Boeing aims to deliver single 747-8I in 2011

LAS VEGAS — Citing change incorporation stemming from flight test, Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor says the first and only delivery of the 747-8I in 2011 will be “right at the end of the year”.

“There’s not a lot of margin”, says Taylor of the 747-8I, which is expected to be certified late in the fourth quarter.

“We won’t get three to five, the plan is to get one. And it’s challenging,” said Taylor today of the 2011 747-8I deliveries.

Almost exactly one year ago at NBAA 2010, Taylor said Boeing planned to begin 747-8I flight testing in March, which it achieved, and anticipated a four month flight test program.

At the time Boeing aimed to deliver the first five 747-8Is to VIP customers before the end of 2011.

“I lay awake at night trying to figure out how I’m going to deliver five of them in the compressed period we have,” said Taylor in 2010.

Further putting pressure on flight test, weeks after that October 2010 estimate, Boeing suffered a fire aboard one of its 787 flight test aircraft, extending the majority-composite jetliner’s certification effort by approximately seven months.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said in July the company planned to deliver its first green 747-8I to a completion center in early-December.

Boeing forecasts delivering 25 to 30 747-8 and 787 aircraft in 2011 and Taylor declined to discuss any potential impact on that estimate, citing the US Securities and Exchange Commission quiet period ahead of the company’s quarterly earnings call on October 26.

Though, Taylor did say that the 25 to 30 estimate, which was revised downward in July, was developed when the company had already accepted that reality” of a single 747-8I delivery “before that plan came along”.

Boeing reduced its overall 2011 forecast for its new program deliveries from 25 to 40 down to 25 to 30.

The airframer plans to deliver its first passenger configured 747-8I to Lufthansa in Spring 2012, and Taylor says the company has been in close communication with its customers about its delivery schedule.

“All of our customers are aware exactly where we are. We’re talking directly with them, they know what’s going on, there’s no surprise that’s happening behind the scenes here.”