Commercial Airplanes
6:10 am
Tue December 21, 2010

Boeing Increasing Output of Popular 777 Jets

Boeing is still struggling to iron out kinks in the production of its new 787 Dreamliner.  The company is expected to announce the latest delay for that program this week. 

Meantime, it says demand is so great for its tried and true 777 that it will be increasing output of that jet.

This is the second production increase Boeing has announced for the 777 program this year.  In March, the company said it would increase the rate from the current five planes per month to seven, starting in the middle of next year.  Now the promise is to get to eight point three per month soon after that. Boeing spokesman Tom Brabant  says they have a backlog of more than 250 of the popular twin aisle jets.

"What we are hearing from our customers around the world is that they still want us to keep producing these and get their airplanes out there to them faster.  So we are increasing that rate again in 2013 to help satisfy the needs of the customers."   

He says this will mean more jobs in Everett – for mechanics, engineers and support staff.  And even though it's a steep ramp up, of about 66% in two years, Boeing is confident they can pull it off.     

"We're certainly going to work closely with our suppliers," Brabant says,  "to make sure that we have the additional tooling and the infrastructure that they need  - and that we need  - to work with them to ensure a smooth transition." 

United Airlines first placed the Triple Seven into service in 1995.  There have been 907 deliveries of the aircraft, which comes in several different versions, including a freighter.  Several major commercial airlines use the long-range jet.   FedEx uses the cargo version.

The news of increased production comes despite an announcement from the aerospace giant last week that customers canceled orders for three 777s and one of its 787s.

The new 787 has been plagued by delays for more than two years.  The Seattle Times' predicts the next announcement of a delay will put off delivery of the jet to its first customer by at least three months, if not six or more.  Flight tests stopped last month because of an electrical fire.  In the latest problem for the plane, Boeing said earlier this month it was in the middle of a three-week hold on assembling pieces of the 787.

Continental Airlines was scheduled to be the first U.S. carrier with a 787, and planned to begin flights between Houston and Auckland, New Zealand, in November 2011. Those are now being pushed into 2012.

Continental will fly a planned route between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, with a Boeing 777 instead of the 787. Those flights are set to begin in November 2011.