The head of Boeing's commercial planes unit reaffirmed on Wednesday that the plane maker can correct a glitch on the 787 Dreamliner and meet its delivery goals for the aircraft this year.
The light-weight, carbon-composite plane is already three years behind its development schedule. In February, Boeing reported signs of "delamination" on the rear fuselage of some 787s, calling into question the company's plan to build 10 of the planes per month by the end of next year.
"I see nothing to date that leads me to believe that we won't deliver all the 787s we have in our plan by the end of the year," Jim Albaugh told an industry conference.
Delamination occurs when stress causes layered composite materials to separate. The issue was the result of a manufacturing error that occurred at a Boeing plant in South Carolina.
Boeing has said that the problem may affect the first 55 Dreamliners built and that it will take 10 to 14 days per plane to repair. Boeing has said the repair may affect deliveries in the first part of 2012, but not in the longer term.
"Between the 787 and the 747, we should deliver between 70 and 85 of those airplanes this year. It's split pretty evenly between the two," Albaugh said.
Many experts doubt that Boeing can hit the 10-per-month rate target for 787s. The current rate is 3.5 per month.
Despite the delays, the Dreamliner is a hit among customers, who have ordered about 870. Boeing delivered the first 787 last year.
The company assembles 787s at plants in Washington and South Carolina. Boeing expects the first 787 assembled in South Carolina to be completed next month.
Meanwhile, Boeing is planning a new version of its popular wide-body 777. Albaugh said the company is leaning toward updating the current design with composite wings and new engines rather than completely redesigning the aircraft.
He said that when Boeing has a firm plan for the 777, it could seek board of director approval for it later this year.