Boeing plots 787 line ramp up

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Having overcome the psychological hurdle of completing the first delivery of its 787, Boeing is now concentrating on ramping up its production lines to deliver 10 aircraft a month by the end of 2013.

George Maffeo, vice-president 787 supplier management, said a key part of the rate increase will be delivered by its plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The first aircraft to be assembled at Charleston - for delivery to Air India - is being built on the site's line 46.

A second assembly line - number 54 - will come on stream in the "next several weeks" as the major structural components are delivered to the facility, said Maffeo.

He also expressed confidence that its supply chain, which was to blame for a large proportion of the aircraft's delays, will be able to handle the ramp up.

"The production system is working really well, our partners are doing exactly what we need them to be doing," he said.

"We had significant issues a year ago and we have resolved all of those."

Boeing has "sizeable resident teams" stationed at key suppliers in Japan and Italy to ensure there is no repeat, he added.

Meanwhile, the airframer is still attempting to cut the weight of its 787-8, although it declined to be drawn on how or when this will be achieved.

"I don't know specifically when we'll reach the design weight, but that's almost irrelevant now because we'll continue to push and plan further weight reduction opportunities forever," Maffeo said. "Anything that can save a pound of weight is a big deal."

The next step will be production and certification of the -9 variant. Boeing has completed its detailed design review of the aircraft and will begin assembly next year, with flight testing and certification scheduled for early 2013.

Maffeo also reaffirmed that the airframer's forecast of 25 to 30 combined 787 and 747 deliveries this year.