Shifting Sands For Boeing's Dreamliner
Boeing has scrubbed its schedule for the production of its all-composite 787 Dreamliner as it works to reinforce the aircraft's wing section while customers have scrubbed orders for about 72 of the jets this year, including 15 dropped by Qantas last week. Still the order book for the untested, unfinished aircraft stands at roughly 850 for a list price total of more than $151 billion. The aircraft's first flight has seen four delays that have so far put the jet two years behind schedule, and the cascade of reactions to that reality include Boeing's bartering with carriers who still hold orders for the aircraft. Among those, All Nippon Airways has actually added five more of the jetliners to its orders, which may give a glimpse into the complicated contracts that manufacturers create with their clients. Media reports say some customers are seeking compensation for the delays as Boeing's delays disrupt their strategic operating plans amid volatile oil costs and a depressed economy. On the upside, Boeing has the opportunity to avoid penalties with remaining customers as they gain some flexibility in delivery schedules among fewer buyers. On the downside, the jet hasn't flown yet and after extensive computer modeling, ground tests have detected structural flaws that require structural changes. Wednesday, new rumors surfaced.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Boeing has entered talks to buy a South Carolina plant where the 787's rear fuselage sections are built, but noted that both Boeing and the supplier declined to comment. The move could provide Boeing more production capacity, which may be favorable when it begins to address its significant order backlog and what may become a foreshortened delivery schedule.