Boeing Co. is trying to wring even more efficiency from its 787 Dreamliner supply chain and aims to start getting these airplanes to customers by the end of 2008.
Boeing plans to fly the first 787 by March 31, begin deliveries in late November or December and deliver 109 of the new airplanes in 2009, said Scott Carson, president and chief executive officer of Boeing's commercial airplanes segment.
Chicago-based Boeing held a Dec. 11 conference call explaining to skeptical analysts how the manufacturer can get its new global production system on track and, in about a year, begin working down the backlog of 762 orders from 53 airlines.
The use of highly automated systems and advanced techniques of structural assembly may help Boeing eventually reach its goal of producing six 787 aircraft per month.
The ramp-up is aggressive but, so far, Boeing has not found fundamental disruptive flaws in the production system design, said Patrick Shanahan, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. He said Boeing is making progress with problems such as shortages of parts such as fasteners.
By weight, the 787 has about 50 percent in structural composites including the forward, center and aft fuselage sections, the wings, the horizontal stabilizer and the vertical fin.
Polymer-matrix-composites suppliers for the 787 components include units of Toray Industries Inc., Hexcel Corp. and Cytec Industries Inc.
At the Boeing production line in Everett, Wash., final structure and systems installations are going on the first airplane. Next is a static-test aircraft now receiving landing gear, engines, and required interior installations. The airplane for fatigue testing entered the final-body assembly site Nov. 30.