Boeing CEO tells Charleston workers to ‘keep charging’ as 787 battery probe continues
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney offered up a vote of confidence today for the company’s 787 operations in North Charleston amid a safety probe into batteries installed on the grounded jetliner.
“We’re telling them , number one, you’re doing a helluva job and, number two, to keep charging,” McNerney said when asked how management is addressing the issue with the 6,000 South Carolina employees who help build the Dreamliner.
McNerney was peppered with questions from financial analysts and the media about the high-profile safety investigation during a conference call this morning.
Production on the airplane continues as investigators try to determine what caused two battery incidents this month, including a fire on a 787 parked in Boston.
McNerney said the company is working around the clock with safety regulators to find the “root cause” of the problem, but he declined to talk in detail about the ongoing probe.
“We’re in the middle of the investigation and making progress in this investigation,” he said.
The airplane is made in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.
“In 2013 our first order of business, obviously, is getting the 787 back into service,” McNerney said while touting Boeing’s strong fourth-quarter earnings performance.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Jan. 16 grounded all U.S.-registered 787s, resulting in global halt in operations of all 50 in-service Dreamliners, including four made in North Charleston for Air India.
Boeing said in statement that it is “committed to working with the FAA and other applicable regulatory authorities to return aircraft to service with the full confidence of customers and the traveling public. While production continues on the 787, the company is suspending deliveries until clearance is granted by the FAA.”
Boeing remains committed to manufacturing 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of the year.
“No instructions to slow down, business as usual. Let’s keep building airplanes. And then let’s ramp up as we planned,” McNerney said.
The North Charleston factory is increasing production to make three a month. Boeing’s CEO said he is confident the South Carolina plant would hits its target on time. See upcoming editions of The Post and Courier for more details.