Boeing Ramps Up Production of 787; United to Fly Dreamliner Soon
Boeing is now building its new 787 Dreamliner on a third assembly line. The company is trying to transition from the delays it experienced during development of the new airplane into full-speed production. The temporary “surge line” adds to the existing assembly line in Everett, Washington, and the company has also added an assembly line in South Carolina. With a backlog of more than 800 orders, Boeing plans on boosting the 787 production rate from its current 3.5 airplanes a month to 10 per month by the end of next year.
The company recently delivered one of its new 787 Dreamliners to Ethiopian Airlines, the third carrier to receive the composite airliner, and the first outside Japan. The airplane maker has delivered 17 Dreamliners to three airlines and is expected to deliver a Dreamliner to Air India this week. But past delays are still haunting the company as it ramps up production of the 787 and makes plans for changes to other aircraft in its fleet.
In addition to Ethiopian Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, Boeing has recently unveiled 787s destined for United Airlines, the first U.S. carrier to fly the new airplane. Air India’s 787 will be the first airplane to enter service that was assembled at Boeing’s new South Carolina factory. But as the airplane maker delivers Air India’s Dreamliner, the airline is counting on a discount from Boeing because the airplane is a bit overweight and won’t meet the efficiency standards initially promised.
It’s not unusual for the initial examples of a new airliner to be a bit off the claimed performance. Boeing and the airlines receiving many of the early 787s have known for some time that the airplanes would be overweight. As the airplane was re-engineered late in the development and production processes were refined, airplanes further down the assembly line should be closer to the 20 percent efficiency gains claimed by Boeing. Air India expects its first 787s to be closer to a 12 percent gain over the Airbus A-330.
The Indian airline is expecting compensation from Boeing for the performance difference, another common practice in the airline industry. The annual compensation should be at least $ 80,000 according to The Economic Times. The newspaper reports Air India will negotiate the final compensation after evaluating the Dreamliners in service. This money is in addition to compensation received from Boeing due to the delay of more than three years for receiving the first 787.
Australian airline Qantas announced last week worse news for Boeing. The airline canceled 35 orders for the 787. Qantas says it still stands behind the airplane, and plans to keep 50 Dreamliners it has on order, but the airline recently announced a $ 256 million loss and says the tough economic times mean changes to its order book.
United Airlines is expected to begin flying the first 787 on U.S. domestic routes some time in October.