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Boeing’s build rate for 787 plane up to 10 per month

Keywords: Tags  Boeing, Larry Loftis, 787 Dreamliner, Dawne S. Hickton, RTI International Metals, Precision Castparts, PCC, titanium build rate

LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co. has increased the build rate on its titanium-heavy 787 Dreamliner to 10 airplanes per month, the "highest ever" for a twin-aisle aircraft, the company said in a statement.

The Chicago-based aerospace company, which previously said it expected to reach the 10-per-month goal by the end of last year, said the 155th Dreamliner would be delivered from its Everett, Wash., final assembly line.

The current 787 build rate represents the third increase in a little more than a year, from five planes per month in November 2012 and seven per month in May of last year, the company said. Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for the parent company’s Boeing Commercial Airplanes subsidiary in Seattle, said in the statement that the rate increase reflects "continued strong demand for the 787," which has a backlog of about 850 orders.

The first 787 delivery was due in May 2008 but was postponed to September 2011 following Boeing’s problems with an expanded global supply chain created for the aircraft and various technical glitches. At that time, when it was building just two planes per month, it set a monthly goal of 10 per month by the end of 2013.

The 787 is being assembled at two lines in Everett and one line at Boeing’s Charleston, S.C., facility. While a Boeing spokeswoman declined to reveal how many planes are being shipped out of each facility, she said Boeing-Charleston expects to ship Dreamliners at the rate of three per month by midyear.

Boeing looks to increase its Dreamliner output to 12 per month by 2016 and 14 by the end of this decade.

Meanwhile, suppliers of titanium and other components are moving up their own delivery rates.

Dawne S. Hickton, vice chairwoman, president and chief executive officer of Pittsburgh based RTI International Metals Inc., told investors in November that RTI, which last year was making seat tracks for the Dreamliner at a rate of six shipsets per month, had reached nine shipsets per month by the end of the third quarter and expected to reach 10 by the year-end.

An RTI spokesman declined to comment on whether the company reached this goal.

Hickton also said that reaching 12 shipsets of seat tracks per month "shouldn’t be an issue at all" for RTI, which builds the titanium seat tracks at its Houston extrusion operations and its RTI Claro machining subsidiary in Montreal.

"We think we have the capability to work up even further than that," Hickton said.

Portland, Ore.-based Precision Castparts Corp. (PCC) said last week that it was manufacturing titanium fasteners for the 787 at an increasing rate of six planes per month, while its aerostructure facilities were at seven shipsets per month (, Jan. 24).

"All of our suppliers are delivering at the rate we are asking them to," a spokeswoman for Boeing Commercial Airplanes said.

The production rate for Boeing’s other twin-aisle plane, the 777, stands at 8.3 per month.

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