GEnx production tempo hints at 14 per month 787 rate

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An analysis of the GEnx engine production rate indicates that Boeing may be planning to build 14 Boeing 787s per month some time beyond 2013, a number hinted at by Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh in late April but not confirmed by the airframer.

Albaugh, speaking to reporters on the rollout of the first 787-8 from the company's North Charleston, South Carolina final assembly line on 27 April, said the two factories - one in Everett; one in South Carolina - could each produce seven aircraft per month.

Near term plans call for South Carolina to build three aircraft per month by the end of 2013, with Everett ramping up to seven 787s per month by the same time. Boeing has said it is looking at higher rates beyond that, but has not publicly committed to a number above 10 aircraft per month.

GE Aviation's GEnx programme manager, Chuck Nugent, says the company plans a steady state production rate of 300 GEnx engines per year for the 747-8 and 787 after several years of ramping up.

Boeing's 747-8 programme manager Elizabeth Lund has said Boeing plans to ramp up and produce two 747-8 aircraft per month "for the foreseeable future", accounting for 96 GEnx engines per year, or eight engines per month for four of the four-engined aircraft. The GEnx-2B is the only engine choice for the 747-8 freighter and intercontinental models.

For the 787, customers can either choose the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine or the GEnx-1B. Nugent says 60% of the 854 order holders who have selected engines have chosen the GE product.

If the 60/40 split continues in the long term, the remaining 200 engines per year will power 60% of the 787s delivered (or 100 GE-powered aircraft). Considering a 40% market share for Rolls-Royce, the total number of 787s built per year computes to 167 aircraft, or 14 787s per month.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online database confirms that 359, or 60%, of the 596 order holders who have chosen engines to date have picked GE. The database also shows that 787 deliveries will climb to 10 per year through 2015, increasing to 12 per year in 2016.

Boeing is not commenting on long term rates, saying it remains "focused on systematically ramping up to 10 [aircraft] per month" by late 2013.