Its taken a while, but Boeing is now producing its 787 Dreamliner at the rate of five a month headed for a rate of 10 monthly by the end of next year.
Boeing workers last week rolled out the first of its Dreamliners built at that five-a-month rate late last week.
The achievement, while significant, is still far short of the original vision Boeing rolled out when it committed to Dreamliner production seven years ago. Then the idea was that a single assembly line at Everett would do final assembly on each Dreamliner in just three days.
The current reality is that Boeing now has three assembly lines, two in Everett and one in a new plant in North Charleston, S.C. producing collectively now at half the rate the single line was to produce.
Much of the problem, however, doesn’t have to do with Boeing, but with its suppliers, who’ve had a difficult time raising their production and completion levels to match Boeing’s ability to do the final assembly work.
For years, those major suppliers delivered big sections of the Dreamliner to Boeing with work still undone. That was work that Boeing had to finish on the final assembly line, work the company had never contemplated doing itself when it made the three-day production prediction.
The company now has built 83 Dreamliners, but many of those remain in post-production modification until they can be delivered. The company through October had delivered 33 Dreamliners.
“This accomplishment, doubling our production rate in one year, is the result of the combined efforts of thousands of men and women across Boeing and at our partners,” said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “The entire 787 team is focused on meeting our commitments. They’ve gotten even smarter in how they build this airplane and applied real ingenuity in making our processes and tools more efficient.”