Wed, May 21, 2008
Boeing Will Likely Offer 767s To Tide Over Dreamliner
There might be at least one bright
spot for Boeing, as the American planemaker struggles to deliver
its oft-delayed 787 Dreamliner to waiting customers. Those delivery
delays -- some as long as 30 months --
means several airlines are looking for alternate planes to tide
them over, and Boeing happens to have a similarly-sized widebody
just waiting for more orders.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Boeing's 767 production
line in Everett, WA is currently cranking out just one plane per
month, against an order backlog of just 49 planes. As recently as
February -- after Boeing lost a lucrative US Air Force tanker
contract to an Airbus-derived plane -- it looked as though
production of the venerable widebody would end within two years...
but the 787's problems might extend that timeframe
Sources tell the P-I Boeing plans to boost 767 production to two
planes a month starting in 2009... regardless of whether Boeing
wins its GAO protest of the KC-X award, and the contract goes out
for rebid. The reason -- to provide waiting 787 customers with
aircraft, as they wait for their composite-bodied wonders to
"Everyone on the line knows the rates are going up, and why,"
said one unidentified 767 worker. "It's not over yet."
Such a move isn't unprecedented. Most recently, Airbus bumped up
production of its A330 family of twin-engine aircraft, to provide
customers for its similarly-delayed A350 XWB with aircraft until
that plane is ready for delivery in 2013. The line has also seen a
resurgence due to the KC-X win -- the Northrop/EADS KC-45A is
derived from the A330-200 commercial airliner -- as well as the
recently-introduced A330 Freighter.
Arguably, the A330 and the even-older 767 are far from
state-of-the-art aircraft, at least certainly not as advanced as
the upcoming Dreamliner and XWB. But that doesn't matter for many
airlines which had already planned new long-haul service with their
planes, only to see those schedules pushed off for years... those
carriers are willing to take what they can get.
Sources say Boeing is making a concerted effort to sell or lease
more 767s... but the company won't officially comment.
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