Flight testing of the Boeing 787 powered with General Electric's GEnx-1B turbofan engines is approximately 95% complete, and extended twin-engine operations (ETOPs) testing is "now underway and progressing well", the US airframer's chairman, president and CEO Jim McNerney said today.
During a third-quarter earnings conference call, McNerney also said Boeing is seeing an improvement in the quality, productivity and condition of 787 assembly in its production system.
The company this month will move from a production rate of two aircraft per month to 2.5 aircraft per month. Boeing's new 787 assembly facility in Charleston, South Carolina is also "progressing to plan" as production on the first 787 continues. First delivery from Charleston "is on track" for next year, said McNerney.
While updated guidance provided by Boeing reflects fewer 787 deliveries by year-end, work being done now "is all about burning down the work while ensuring the quality our customers expect" at delivery, said McNerney.
He said Boeing is "applying a disciplined approach" as it readies for rate increases that will take Boeing to a production rate of 10 787s per month in 2013. If the timeframe for getting to that rate were to slip by a quarter or so, he added, it would not have a significant implication on profitability.
Boeing today announced that its 787 programme has been set at a break-even quantity of 1,100 units. The figure is some 100 units higher than had been expected, and far exceeds the 400-unit figures set for the 777, 737NG, 747, 757 and 767 programmes.
Company chief financial officer James Bell said the initial accounting quantity on the 787 is in line with previous programmes given the anticipated demand for the 787 of 5000 units - or 10 years production.