Boeing maps out near-term 787 ramp up goals

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As it holds to its 787 ramp up plans of achieving 10 aircraft per month by the end of 2013, Boeing has outlined its near-term goals of moving the rate from two to 2.5 aircraft per month in September.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said he expects the 787 line to advance again "in a week or so" after holding it in place for over a month to "clean up the factory", incorporating design changes and catching up on work that was to be done by suppliers.

Boeing announced it was holding 787 structural deliveries in place on 11 July, but deliveries resumed with the arrival of the forward 41 Section for the 45th 787, the first for United Airlines.

Albaugh said Boeing will hold production stable at 2.5 aircraft per month for two to three months before advancing in rate in November or December.

He said the "pinch point" in the supply chain remains the centre fuselage integration and aft fuselage fabrication facilities at the company's North Charleston, South Carolina facility.

Formerly operated as Global Aeronautica and Vought Aircraft Industries, respectively, Boeing purchased both in phases during 2008 and 2009 to regain cost control and direct oversight of the facilities.

Albaugh said that the challenges to ramping up the 787 to 10 per month are centred upon three primary areas: Design change incorporation stemming from flight test, ensuring the supply chain is capable of ramping up and the experience of the workforce in South Carolina.

While a portion of the workforce is new to aerospace manufacturing, the composition of the staff is increasingly from its Long Beach, California facility and transfers from the Space Shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility in Florida.

Despite this experience, Albaugh said the work on 787's majority composite airframe is different from the metal airframes the staff is accustomed to, creating a steeper learning curve.

Boeing currently holds orders for 827 787s from 52 customers.