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Dreamliner delivery to ANA: extraordinary effort or smokescreen?

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Aug 19, 2011

(eTN) - When Japanese airline ANA is taking delivery of their first ever B787, being THE launch customer for Boeing, over three-and-a-half years of delay after delay comes to an end. Often denied by Boeing executives, several of whom have since lost their jobs, probably as a result, industry observers regularly put two and two together, and to no one’s surprise arrived at the magic four, when predicting yet another delay again, rattling Boeing’s executive suites and unsettling airlines around the world, which gave over 800 orders for the Dreamliner to the Seattle-based company.

While the test flight program was concluded yesterday, finally one should add, questions have now emerged over the projected production rate for the aircraft, with industry analysts predicting that the intermediate goal of Boeing to roll out 10 B787 per month, may be missed by between 6–9 months owing to a number of factors. The same sources are also predicting that Boeing will only fly into the profit zone with the B787 when they reach 1,000 deliveries, a clear pointer to the true cost of having to compensate airline customers for the long delays, which was reflected in discounted alternatives like the B777 or knock-down prices for the B787 itself. Such actions, however, stemmed the tide of an oncoming wave of order cancellations and ins pite of the cost to the company, may ultimately have been a game changer for Boeing.

Other sources claim that the delivery to ANA had turned into a Herculean task for Boeing, not wanting to risk more egg over the faces of leading executives, but that subsequent deliveries would already be affected by the a slower than expected rate of assemblies and that under normal circumstances, i.e., if the general delay had been less than 3 ½+ years, this particular aircraft may only have been delivered much later in the year and would have been the expected deliveries of the first few sister ships.

East African customers, namely Ethiopian and Kenya Airways, will be eyeing these latest reports with yet more concern, as a slower than planned production rate might well affect their own, and in the past, often rescheduled delivery dates. Industry analysts will be watching developments with keen interest, as their attention now turns to Airbus, where the timetable for the A350 is also under pressure. However, Airbus did learn lessons with the delays of the A380 and has taken remedial steps, which in the case of Boeing were often denied and yet eventually taken, but far too late.

Dreamliner delivery to ANA: extraordinary effort or smokescreen?
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