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Boeing outlines 787 output schedule

Keywords: Tags  titanium, Boeing, James McNerney, 787 Dreamliner, production schedule, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co., which is looking to double the build rate of its 787 Dreamliner this year, isn’t planning another production increase for the titanium-intensive airliner until 2016.

Chairman, president and chief executive officer James McNerney told analysts this week that the Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer is "on track" to build 10 Dreamliners per month by the end of 2013, and will increase production to 12 per month in 2016 and 14 per month "before the end of the decade."

The company’s Seattle-based commercial airplanes unit, which began the year building five 787s per month, is now building seven per month at its Everett, Wash., and North Charleston, S.C., plants. It stuck to its build rates despite battery issues earlier this year that resulted in the temporary grounding and delivery suspension of the Dreamliner fleet.

Boeing, which has an order backlog of 883 Dreamliners, is aiming to deliver more than 60 planes this year compared with 46 in 2012.

Some observers questioned Boeing’s production strategy, wondering if it is an indication that the company is up against a capacity limit. But a Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokesman maintained that "capacity does not play a role" in the decision. He said the production outlook addresses its current order book for the first two versions of the Dreamliner—the current 787-8 and the 787-9, the latter of which is a slightly larger plane due for delivery in early 2014.

"The rates we’re seeing currently take into account the delivery dates for customers of the Dash-8 and Dash-9," the spokesman said, adding that the subsequent increase is related to Dreamliner’s third version, the 787-10, which has its first delivery slated for 2018.

There are now three 787 final assembly lines: a main line and a second, temporary "surge line" in Everett, along with a third line at the Charleston site.

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