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Now arriving: Boeing's oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner

Zoom  Zoom Issue Date:2011-09-29   Source:chicago eribune   Browse:540

Chicago-based Boeing Co. saw its stock rise Monday as it celebrated the delivery of the 787 Dreamliner, ending more than three years of delays on the world's first jetliner made of composites instead of aluminum.


"The last number of years have reminded us of the risk of development, particularly with big innovation like this," CEO Jim McNerney told reporters. "Those lessons will be fresh in our mind as we think about our development programs going forward."


Struggles with the composite materials and manufacturing process pushed back the jet's entry into service seven times since 2007.


At the ceremony marking the delivery of the plane, McNerney spoke in Japanese to All Nippon President Shinichiro Ito. "Thank you for waiting for this day," he said.


All Nippon Airways Co. received the plane at a ceremony outside Boeing's wide-body-jet factory in Everett, Wash. Boeing climbed $2.50, or 4.2 percent, to $62.01 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, its biggest gain since Aug. 12.


Starting with Monday's handover, Boeing will begin working off the order backlog for 821 Dreamliners. The company aims to boost Dreamliner output fivefold, to 10 a month, by the end of 2013, which would be a record for wide-body aircraft, after the setbacks raised costs, sent 787 inventory ballooning to $16.2 billion through June and upset airlines' timetables for adding new routes.


"We have a robust plan" to increase production, McNerney told reporters after the handover. "On the new planes now coming into our factory, the condition of assembly is equivalent to the condition of assembly we have on our other airplanes. So things are beginning to move."


Carriers have penalty clauses written into contracts for late deliveries. All Nippon has worked with Boeing to receive 767s and 777s to blunt the effect of not getting the 787 in May 2008 as planned. Satoru Fujiki, All Nippon's senior vice president for the Americas, declined to give financial details.


"We have waited three years, and finally we have reached first delivery," Fujiki told reporters Monday in Everett. "We are quite confident in Boeing's ability" to meet delivery targets as production ratchets up.


All Nippon has 55 of the 787s on order, which would make the Tokyo-based airline the biggest operator of the plane. The twin-engine 787 is Boeing's 11th all-new model and the best-selling ever, with 821 orders from 56 customers.


It's also the company's first new jet in 16 years, after the 777. Boeing, which decided in July to upgrade the engines on the 737 instead of building a replacement jet, doesn't expect to develop another new plane until next decade.


All Nippon plans to offer the first 787 passenger flight Oct. 26 as a special trip between Tokyo and Hong Kong. The jets then will start on shorter routes within Japan, because the first ones are overweight and not as fuel-efficient, Fujiki said. Regular domestic service will start Nov. 1 between Haneda and Okayama and Hiroshima, followed by intercontinental service between Haneda and Frankfurt in January after the carrier receives several more of the planes.

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