Boeing misses 2011 787 and 747-8 delivery target

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Boeing failed to meet its 2011 delivery guidance of 15 to 20 747-8s and 787s, handing over just 12 of its newly-certified aircraft, including only three 787s to launch customer All Nippon Airways.

Beyond its missed forecast, the airframer faces a larger challenge of a gap in 787 deliveries after the preliminary batch of aircraft are handed over to ANA, Japan Airlines and Air India. This comes as Boeing attempts to match its factory production rate with its delivery rate as it manages post-certification re-work.

ANA’s third 787, Airplane 31, equipped with Package B Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines and long-range 158-seat configuration, was contractually delivered on 30 December and departed Everett for Tokyo on 4 January.

Delivery had been expected in November, and its late arrival delayed the start of ANA’s service from Tokyo-Haneda to Beijing from December to January. It is part of a block of seven 787s that the carrier expected in 2011.

Airplanes 41 and nine, both for ANA, were due for delivery in 2011 and will be contractually delivered to the carrier in the first half of January. Both received US Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certificates just before the close of the year, said Boeing sources.

Regulatory approval of the General Electric GEnx-1B-powered 787 is still outstanding, requiring Airplane 35, for Air India, to fly production functionality and reliability (F&R) validations. It is now expected to make its maiden flight in the middle of the month. GE certification was due to have been completed by year-end, clearing the way for deliveries to the Indian flag carrier and Japan Airlines, which plans to start its first service from Tokyo-Narita to Boston in April.

JAL’s first 787, Airplane 23, which completed change incorporation in San Antonio, Texas, is due to be delivered in mid-February, it said in December.

A request for proposal from Air India said its first 787 would be delivered later in January, a date that seems unlikely to be met given the outstanding certification requirements for the type. The carrier said it expects seven 787s to be delivered by June, all of which will undergo sale and leaseback transactions. At least one of those seven, Airplane 46, will be delivered from Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina final assembly line.

According to its latest schedule, Z24, formalised in November, Boeing plans to deliver 45 787s to customers in 2012, or approximately three to four each month, down from 61 on the previous Z23 scedule. Boeing is sticking to its goal of meeting a rate of 10 aircraft per month by the end of 2013.

While Boeing has focused resources on preparing some 10 787s for ANA, JAL and Air India - which include those deliveries originally planned for late 2011 - 787 final assembly continues at 2.5 aircraft per month, aircraft that still require re-work, albeit less than previously, to prepare for delivery.

However, aircraft that have not yet gone through significant change incorporation and rework remain parked in long-term storage and are shuffled around the Everett campus. These are creating an “air pocket” in deliveries after the initial batch are handed over, as resources are brought to bear on the less-complete aircraft.

Boeing aims to build a re-work-free 787 by Airplane 63, say those familiar with the plan, delivering the factory complete jetliner directly to its pre-flight preparations for production and customer evaluations. The company has received parts for 787s up to Airplane 56.

If Boeing meets its goal of making Airplane 63 its no-rework aircraft - a goal that at one point was to be met by the 16th and 34th 787s built - fully 59 aircraft will have required post-assembly modifications, including three of the six flight test aircraft.