Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, today commented on the delamination issues on the 787 and the effect on deliveries and production going forward. He spoke at a JP Morgan conference. there are several stories that can be found on Google News, but here’s a link to a Reuters piece that neatly sums things up. Here is a link to Aspire Aviation’s synopsis.
Among other things, Albaugh said Boeing should deliver 70-85 787s and 747-8s, roughly evenly split between the two, or about 35-42 of each airplane. Jon Ostrower also Tweeted that the plan is to deliver the last re-worked 787 in 2014. Some may recall that Boeing’s Scott Fancher, at the time the head of the 787 program (now heading up 777), once said it would take “years” to complete the rework on the plethora of 787s lined up at Everett’s Paine Field. Ostrower also Tweeted, quoting Albaugh, as saying the first “clean” 787 will be line #66 (it had been forecast to be #63).
The other key point is about the delamination. While this has gotten a lot of high-profile attention, particularly in the context of the overall 787 program difficulties, independent sources we checked with tell us that while this is another annoying and embarrassing event for Boeing, the fix in relatively simple and the problem not particularly consequential. Boeing, of course, has said as much but skeptics continue to question Boeing’s credibility due to the history of the program often turning out to be worse than Boeing’s statements. Case-in-point is Boeing’s continued insistence that it will meet the goal of producing 10 787s per month by the end of next year and the disbelief expressed by every aerospace analyst and consultant we’ve seen. (Granted, there may be some who accept the goal as doable, but we’ve not seen them.)
Separately, an interesting public dispute between Air India, a 787 customer, and Boeing emerged. Air India says Boeing agreed to pay $500m for delays of 27 787s. Albaugh says that’s news to him. We ask, what precisely did Air India say? The news reports are too ambiguous. Did Air India say cash compensation or that Boeing is paying $500m in compensation, which, of course, could take many forms such as discounts, services, parts, etc? This would make Albaugh’s statement that no check is being written correct. So it goes….