Despite analyst doubts and media reports of a coming production slip and delay in the first delivery of the larger 787-9, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney has affirmed the company's guidance.
"Our projections as to the ramp, the certification and [first] deliveries are the same. We have not changed any of those," said McNerney during a 27 July earnings call.
787 type certification with Rolls-Royce engines is expected by the end of August followed by first delivery to All Nippon Airways in September. Boeing plans to build 10 787s per month by the end of 2013.
JP Morgan Aerospace Analyst Joe Nadol predicted Boeing will not reach a monthly 787 run rate of 10 aircraft until 2014, which should translate into 105 deliveries that year instead of the 120 Boeing said it will deliver.
The 787's production system is currently in the midst of what Boeing describes as a 20 manufacturing day "rebalance", effectively halting structural deliveries across the supply chain, allowing a greater completion of assembly.
The hold has been largely traced to the completion of the 787's aft fuselage, said programme sources, and cannibalisation of Airplanes 45 and 47 to meet a 100% completion for Airplane 46, the first to enter the company's new North Charleston final assembly line.
"The fact is we have broad visibility across our supply chain now," said McNerney, "When we need to take a pause to rebalance it and we do it early, we get rebalanced, we're almost done with this 20-day rebalance we've done now.
Warning if Boeing did not rebalance McNerney stated: "You pay for it in cost and schedule in a big way later. So we're pretty agile now to rebalance quickly and it will be a positive over the life of this programme and through the ramp that we're accomplishing.
McNerney characterised any potential slip in the entry into service of the larger 787-9 beyond the end of 2013 as "rumours", despite strong suggestions to the contrary by the type's launch customer.
"I'm not sure where that came from," said McNerney.
"Our ramp plans on the -9 are in place," added McNerney, "It's going well, we've got the surge line in Everett as protection, should we get into a stutter step mode there. And the surge line is also there by design to protect against any hiccups in Charleston as we ramp up, that's the whole strategy. Right now our projections are in good shape."
Air Transport Intelligence reported on 21 July that 787-9 launch customer Air New Zealand expects its first aircraft at some point in 2014, and is in discussions with Boeing regarding the final delivery date.
"It would be an understatement to say we are frustrated and disappointed," said Air New Zealand chief financial officer Rob McDonald.
McNerney speculated that Air New Zealand's comments may have been misinterpreted:
"Air New Zealand is one of the very first customers to get the -9 and it takes a while to induct these things into service and I don't know if there's a disconnect between when we deliver it and the time he [McDonald] takes to get it into the fleet or not. I don't know what he meant by that, we have not changed our schedule."