Boeing will delay delivery of the 777X by roughly a year and again cut production rates of the 787 and 777 programs to reflect the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic while studying the feasibility of consolidating Dreamliner production into one plant, the company said Wednesday. Further plans call for ending production of the 747 in 2022, the company reported.
Last scheduled for first delivery in early 2021, the 777X will enter service in 2022 under the new schedule, while the combined production rate for the 777ER/777X falls from five to two per month next year. Boeing also has decided to cut production of the 787 from the current 10 per month to a total of six per month, either at its two Dreamliner plants in South Carolina and Washington state, respectively, or at a single factory depending on the outcome of its consolidation studies.
The rate adjustment marks the second production cut this year. In April Boeing said it would cut 787 rates from 14 a month to seven in 2022, and 777/777X rates from five this year to three next year.
Boeing also expects a slower-than-expected increase in narrowbody production in Renton, Washington, and it now sees a gradual rise in the rate to 31 by early 2022 rather than in 2021, as previously anticipated. Speaking during the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, company CEO David Calhoun added that Boeing anticipates a return to service of the 737 Max in the fourth quarter of this year. CFO Greg Smith reported that Boeing expects to deliver “the majority” of some 450 grounded Maxes in inventory in the year following certification. “The delivery off the ramp will really inform the production rate,” explained Smith.
Meanwhile, the company also expects further employee cuts beyond those announced in April. “More hard decisions are likely ahead of us,” said Calhoun. Some 6,000 out of 16,000 employees already slated for layoff had left the company as of June 30 as part of a plan to reduce the total workforce by 10 percent, said Smith.