Boeing's Z24 787 schedule scales back pre-2014 output

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Boeing's Z24 787 schedule maintains its plan to deliver 10 787s per month across its Washington and South Carolina final assembly lines at the end of 2013, but said the new plan pushes the rate acceleration farther out.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh, speaking at the Credit Suisse Aerospace conference, reiterated plans to meet the oft-stated target of assembling 10 787s per month by the end of 2013.

"At 2.5 we're doing well," said Albaugh, who said that the Everett 787 line accelerated its production rate on 31 October.

"Sometime in late winter or early spring we'll go to 3.5 and then probably in the fall we'll go to five airplanes per month," he said, adding that the company will hold at five per month until the end of 2012 before advancing its rate.

Albaugh said the five aircraft per month rate will be delivered exclusively from Everett, despite the first 787 built in Charleston being assembled for delivery in June 2012.

Albaugh also hinted at increasing production rates of the 787 beyond the committed 10 per month to 12 a month.

"The 787 has been a tough program. Everybody knows that," he said, citing the variety of difficulties the programme has experienced. "All those were difficult tasks. We have more ahead of us. We have to get up to rate. [Plan] Z24 still has us going to 10 a month by the end of 2013. My view is that if we can get to 10 we can get to 11 [and] if we can get to 11 we can get to 12."

The recently issued Z24 obtained by FlightglobalPro shows a sharp decline in planned production over Z23, with 45 deliveries planned for 2012, down from 61 and 66 in 2013 compared to 95. With its goal of reaching the end of 2013 at 10 aircraft per month still intact, Z24 aims to see 119 787s delivered in 2014, down slightly from 120.

"We held the rate at two for quite a while and we had a couple of pauses as you know," Albaugh told FlightglobalPro on the sidelines of the event. "Z24 does move some things to the right, but we still get to 10 a month at the same time, which is the end of 2013."

The production rate does not reflect delivery rates, however. Boeing has more than two-dozen aircraft produced but parked at its Everett, Washington assembly plant awaiting rework and change incorporation.

Albaugh declined to specify the delivery rate for 2012.

"I know precisely [how many deliveries there will be] but I am not going to tell you. When we come out with our guidance for 2012 we give you some clarity on that," he said.

Albaugh said Boeing's Charleston facility has shown it can meet its rate goals and he suggested the plant's first 787 may be ready for delivery ahead of the planned June schedule.

"There are elements in Charleston that have not only demonstrated that they can do in excess of 2.5 airplanes per month," he said. "They've demonstrated in some areas they can do 10 airplanes per month."