Less than a year after Boeing’s problem plagued Dreamliner was grounded, the latest version of the 787 made its first flight. The plane lifted off as hundreds of Boeing workers watched at the company’s final-assembly plant in Everett, Wash.
“The 787-8 is the pathfinder that opens up the markets,” said Ray Conner, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This airplane [787-9], with more capacity and the longer range, will fill in right behind it and pick up as the airlines start to increase loads.”
The 787-9 flight took place as shares of the Dow component climbed to their highest level ever, topping $117.00 a share.
The stock is up more than 60 percent since it traded in the $70 range earlier this year when fires on two Dreamliners prompted a worldwide grounding of the plane.
Still Working Out Problems
While more than 80 Dreamliners are being flown by 14 airlines globally, Boeing acknowledged the aircraft still has problems.
Conner starts every morning by reviewing a report on each Dreamliner flight.
“This is a very strong effort on our part, as well as our suppliers part, to fix the airplane and get it up to dispatch reliability of 100 percent.”
Like all new commercial airplanes, the Dreamliner has encountered a long list of issues as it went into service. But the problems have been so extensive and wide ranging that Wall Street has raised questions about when Boeing will break even on the plane.
The encouraging news for the company and its investors is that Boeing is on track to increase Dreamliner production to its target by the end of the year.
“We’re … starting to increase our supply rate to 10 a month,” Conner said. “We’ll stabilize that and then figure out whether we want to take it up to 12 and possibly higher.”
787 Fact Box
• Delivered: 84 to 14 airlines
• Orders YTD: 88
• Order backlog: 852