While concerns about availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines dog its 787 programme, Boeing continues to wrestle with workmanship issues on the aircraft's Alenia-built horizontal stabiliser.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Jim Albaugh says Boeing will have to "do some re-shimming and we'll have to do some analysis" on most of the existing crop of 27 stabilisers already delivered from Italy to final assembly in Everett, though "we're not too worried" about later units, thanks to Boeing personnel at Alenia's Foggia facility.

Meanwhile, Boeing appears to be nearing an acquisition of a 787 supply chain partner. Sources inside the airframer and its supplier partners are quietly speculating that the horizontal stabiliser is an insourcing candidate at a time when the structure is set to become significantly more complex for the larger 787-9, which will feature a new integral multispar box architecture and self-clearing laminar flow design to cut drag by 1%.

Albaugh - who is notoriously deliberate with his words - says "stay tuned" for future changes to the balance between the role of Boeing and its suppliers: "Work is not an entitlement. We want to have long-term relationships, but they have to perform, they have to deliver value to us.

"We're committed to our suppliers to the extent they are reliable, that they deliver on the promises they make to us, but we can't put the enterprise in jeopardy. We are committed to Alenia, but Alenia, just like everyone else, you have to earn your way on to the programme each and every day."

Acquisition of troubled supply partners, however, appears to be far from an established Boeing strategy, with chief financial officer James Bell saying that "is not an approach that I advocate".

Source: Flight International