Boeing returns 777 line to seven per month

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Boeing has returned 777 output to seven per month, marking the line's transition to the higher rate with the roll out of a 777 freighter.

The company's 777 final assembly line has cut its flow time from 52 to 49 days, returning to its production peak, while it plans to step up to rate 8.3, aiming to build 100 777s per year in the first quarter of 2013.

Boeing says the days of flow were cut from wing spar, service-ready wing and final body join areas.

"We incorporated lessons learned from previous rate increases to ensure we'd have the smoothest transition," said 777 programe vice-president Larry Loftis. "Fortunately, we entered the rate break when the programme is very healthy, and we are experiencing some of the all-time-best metrics," he added.

The first aircraft to be assembled with the 49 day flow time, a 777 freighter for FedEx Express, will deliver in June and was loaded into final assembly in March when Boeing reactived a third fuselage systems integration position inside the factory.

This is Boeing's fourth return to a rate of seven 777s per month, previously building at that rate from July 1997 to February 1998, August 1998 to October 1999 and November 2006 to May 2010.

The 777 programme recorded 48 new orders through April 2011, growing the backlog to 280 aircraft.