LOS ANGELES Despite the
lithium-ion battery failures that have grounded most of Boeing
Co.s 787 Dreamliners, the company has not issued any
production slowdown orders to its supply chain, the aerospace
giants top executive said this week.
Jim McNerney, chairman,
president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Boeing,
said the company has given its suppliers and subcontractors "no
instructions to slow down" due to the battery problems, which
are now the subject of a federal investigation. Boeing is
"making progress" in determining the reasons for the battery
problems and expressed confidence the probe will "identify the
root cause of these incidents," he said during a conference
call to discuss fourth-quarter 2012 earnings.
"Lets keep building
airplanes, and then lets ramp up as we planned," McNerney
said the company has told its subcontractors and suppliers.
Boeing moved the much-delayed aircrafts build rate up to
five per month last year, and McNerney said the company would
not alter its goal of reaching 10 per month by the end of
McNerney also noted that it is
"likely" that a composite wing will replace the current
aluminum wing on the so-called 777X, the next version of its
largest, most established twin-aisle airliner, the 777. While
he agreed that a new wing as well as new engines for the 777
represent a "significant amount of work" for a derivative model
of an existing program, he stressed that this would be the
companys third or fourth generation of composite
"The advantage we have in using
composites for airfoils and aerospace applications is one thing
I dont want to give up on," he said.
The 777 is composed of 12
percent composites and 50 percent aluminum by weight, compared
with the 50 percent and 20 percent, respectively, on the more
recent 787, Boeing said.
Greater composite use generally
goes hand in hand with higher titanium use because aluminum
isnt considered compatible with composites in many
applications. Boeing says the current 777 has an upper wing
skin and stringers made from 7055 aluminum alloy, which
features greater compression strength than traditional alloys,
resulting in weight savings and improved resistance to
corrosion and fatigue.
In the three months ended Dec.
31, Boeing posted net income of $978 million, down 29.5 percent
from the year-prior quarter, on a 14-percent increase in
revenues to $22.3 billion in the same comparison. Its full-year
income fell to $3.9 billion, down 2.9 percent from 2011, on an
18.9-percent increase in revenue to $81.7 billion vs. $68.74
billion in 2011.