Boeing’s top boss has defended the aircraft-maker’s global supply-chain model, blamed for delays in the 787 programme, but he has conceded that for future aircraft programmes Boeing may have to make changes.

The aircraft-maker’s CEO, Jim McNerney, made the assessment in a memo sent yesterday to Boeing employees, a copy of which has been obtained by ATI affiliate FlightBlogger.

In the memo, McNerney says “the global-partnership model of the 787 remains a fundamentally sound strategy…but we may have gone a little too far, too fast in a couple of areas”.

“I expect we’ll modify our approach somewhat on future programmes - possibly drawing the lines in different places with regard to what we ask our partners to do, but also sharpening our tools for overseeing overall supply-chain activities.”

Overall he still defends the global supply-chain model by saying “it makes sense to utilise technology and technical talent from around the world.”

And “it makes sense to be involved with the industrial bases of countries that also support big customers of ours”, says McNerney.

In the memo, McNerney also says he visited the 787 assembly line last week where he could see the work being done on the first 787 aircraft and see how the aircraft sections coming in from suppliers had improved.

“I walked away encouraged by the significant strides that the team has made in completing travelled work and unexpected rework on airplane #1 and the two structural test airplanes.”

Work on “airplane #2, and the sections of airplane #3 that recently arrived, demonstrate that the condition of the assemblies built by our structural partners is improving noticeably with each successive unit.”

“And that is vitally important for getting us back to where we are doing only the work we originally planned to do in our own factory,” he adds.

Boeing was originally suppose to deliver its first 787 to launch customer All Nippon Airways in May of this year but several delays in the programme has pushed back first deliveries to late 2009.

The aircraft-maker’s industrial partners on the programme include firms such as: Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which is making the wings; Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which is making the forward fuselage section; and Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, which is making the centre fuselage.

Source:'s sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news

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