Boeing's Vought deal highlights outsourcing perils

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The deal, which is expected to be closed by the end of the third quarter, was necessary as the required financial commitment outpaced the Vought Aircraft Industries' ability to participate in the programme, says chief executive Elmer Doty.

"It's a positive step, one of many positive signs that Boeing has learned a very expensive lesson about outsourcing too much development work," says Richard Aboulafia, vice-president analysis at Teal Group.

"It's also a good indicator that the 787 supply base is still in a state of flux."

The move raises Boeing's investment in Vought's share of the 787 to over $1 billion, after the $560 million acquisition is added to the $422 million in advance payments already provided to the first-tier aerostructures supplier.

Vought will remain as a supplier on the 787 programme at a significantly scaled-back component level.

Vought's statement of work on the 787 programme includes the two primary aft fuselage barrels (sections 47 and 48) while the tailcone (section 48-aft) is outsourced to Korean Air's aerospace division in Busan, South Korea.

Aboulafia believes that the Vought acquisition is more about "production plan damage control" rather than "ramping up deliveries to new heights".

Since 90% plus of the 787 is built by other contractors, focusing on a second line is a small part of any scheme to increase production," he adds.