Boeing says today it has started building on schedule the first 777 at an increased production rate of 8.3 per month, or 99.6 per year.
The company increased the rate by 20% as part of a broader production ramp-up also on the 737, 767 787 and 747 programmes, even as Boeing's output of commercial aircraft is already at the fastest level in 12 years.
The first 777 built at the higher rate will be delivered in February 2013, becoming part of the freighter fleet for Korean Air. The lower lboe of the aft fuselage of the aircraft was loaded into position at Boeing's factory in Everett, Washington.
Boeing says the 777 production rate was achieved by investing in new manufacturing technologies. The airframer cites flex-track drilling machines in 777 body and wings area and automated spray-painting as two examples.
Another investment was made in hiring and training "hundreds of additional employees", Boeing says.