* Boeing stands by 787 production rate plans
* Says rate has increased to 3.5 planes per month
* Boeing set to deliver 1,000th 777
By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE, March 2 Boeing Co will
build 10 787 Dreamliners per month by the end of 2013, the head
of the plane-maker's commercial airplanes division said on
Friday, shrugging off industry concerns that a glitch in the
fuselage will put the goal out of reach.
"It shouldn't," Jim Albaugh said on the sidelines of an
event marking the 1,000th delivery of Boeing's widebody 777.
Dubai-based Emirates Airline will receive the plane this month.
Last month, the world's second-largest commercial
plane-maker after EADS unit Airbus, reported signs of
"delamination" on the rear fuselage of some 787s. Delamination
occurs when repeated stress causes laminated composite materials
Boeing has said the problem would affect the first 55 787s
that were assembled but that the issue is now contained and will
not be repeated. The company says the repair will take 10 to 14
days per plane, but will be done concurrently with other work.
"It's going to have a short-term impact on production and
deliveries, but we think for the year we'll be in good shape,"
The light-weight, carbon-composite Dreamliner is popular
among airline customers, which have ordered about 870. The
plane, which entered commercial service last year, is about
three years behind its original schedule.
The company said it increased the 787 production rate to 3.5
per month from 2.5 on Thursday. Boeing has delivered only five
787s so far, all to its launch customer All Nippon
Airways. The company delivered no 787s in February.
Last week, Boeing swapped the heads of its 787 Dreamliner
and 777 programs, in hopes that the long-time 777 leader Larry
Loftis can keep the Dreamliner production rate on track.
Boeing is raising production rates on all of its commercial
airplane programs to meet increased demand.
The 777 production rate went up from five to seven per
month in 2011 and is headed to 8.3 in the first quarter of 2013.
Boeing, meanwhile, intends to update the popular 777 but has not
disclosed specific plans.
Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and
chief executive of Emirates Airline & Group, said at the Boeing
celebration that he would be "very interested" in the next
version of 777.
When asked when the new version of the 777 would be in
service, Albaugh said: "We're talking late in the decade."
According to Boeing's website on Friday, Emirates has taken
delivery of 53 777s and has another 86 on order. Boeing has 373
unfilled orders for 777s on its books.