Boeing Has Inspected Five 787s For Flaws

March 5, 2012

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Boeing has inspected five 787 Dreamliners for a recently discovered flaw in the fuselage and remains on track to build 10 of the planes per month by the end of 2013, the new head of the 787 programme said on Monday.

The plane maker is inspecting the first 55 787s built before the problem was discovered and will repair them as needed, Larry Loftis said before a groundbreaking ceremony for a new delivery centre for at Boeing commercial planes.

"We will touch every single airplane," said Loftis, the former leader of Boeing's successful 777 programme.

The 787 is the world's first commercial plane with an airframe made largely of light-weight carbon composites. It boasts better fuel-efficiency and is a hit among customers who have ordered about 870 of them.

However, the plane is about three years behind its original development and production schedule. The Dreamliner's development was disrupted several times by problems with suppliers, such as a delay in the availability of a Rolls-Royce engine needed for the final phases of flight testing.

Boeing delivered the first 787 last year to All Nippon Airways and is ramping up the production rate to 10 per month, a target many experts believe to be unattainable.

Last month, Boeing reported signs of "delamination" on the rear fuselage of some 787s. Delamination occurs when stress causes layered composite materials to separate.

Boeing has said it will take 10 to 14 days per plane to repair. The problem caused some experts to again question the production rate target. Boeing has said the repair may affect deliveries in the first part of 2012, but not in the longer term.

The company increased the 787 production rate to 3.5 per month from 2.5 last week. The plane maker has delivered only five 787s so far, all to All Nippon Airways, and delivered none in February.

Last month, Boeing swapped the heads of its 787 and 777 programmes, in hopes that the long-time 777 leader Loftis can keep the Dreamliner production rate on track.

Boeing is raising production rates on all of its commercial aircraft to meet increased demand.

(Reuters)