Boeing today announced a delay in production of its 787 Dreamliner, pushing the first flight originally scheduled for the end of the first quarter 2008 closer to the end of the second quarter 2008. The scheduled date for delivery of the first planes, which was set for late 2008, has been shifted to early 2009 in order to maintain a realistic production schedule.
“We simply have not burned through the jobs at the rate required to keep our previous schedule,” said Scott Carson, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, during a conference call this morning regarding current production delays.
Boeing’s process for final assembly took into consideration the completion of work from all of its suppliers, but in the case of plane number one, the work has delayed production.
“If there is anything we have learned over the past three months, it’s that we underestimated how long it would take to complete someone else’s work,” said 787 Vice President and General Manager Pat Shanahan.
As a result of this and previous delays, Boeing assembled a management team which will be deployed to work on-site with suppliers and in the final assembly facility of the 787. “These additional operational experts will improve our ability to plan, execute, measure and react in a timely way to changing circumstances,” said Carson.
Though the supply and production of parts have caused delays in the past, “parts are not the pacing item,” said Shanahan, who thought Boeing would be able to modify its production process to account for incomplete work provided by suppliers.
“The process to reconcile partner engineering with our production records, with our production process, is very onerous and time consuming.” Shanahan said. “That has proven to be the pacing item in completing structural work in the critical fuselage area where we would install the systems and the wiring to put power onto the airplane.”
Boeing officials said the company intends to work with suppliers and customers to determine the impact this delay has had, how it will effect production and deployment and reassess the timeline. Boeing will also assess the abilities of its suppliers to deliver completed assemblies with future airplanes.