Boeing Co. has taken its share of lumps for all the Dreamliner production hiccups and delays over the past few years.
The airframer was more than three years late in handing over the first 787 last September, and thanks in part to incorrect shimming at its North Charleston plant, the pace of deliveries hasn’t picked up much in the months since.
And the scrutiny will only continue as Boeing hustles to churn out its goal of 10 Dreamliners per month by the end of next year, including three a month in South Carolina.
But recent news regarding Boeing’s competitors and customers put the 787 delays in perspective.
Airbus, its European archrival, has had to contend with the worrying problem of cracks in the wings of its A380 superjumbo jets, and its answer to the half-composite Dreamliner, the A350, also has been plagued by delays.
Even worse, last week, a new Russian passenger plane, the Sukhoi Superjet 100, crashed into a mountain in Indonesia during a promotional flight, apparently killing all 45 people on board. It has not been determined whether pilot error or a defect in the plane is to blame, but either way, that jet program’s lofty expectations are grounded for the moment.
And then there are the airlines’ problems.
American Airlines is just the latest U.S. carrier to declare bankruptcy; Singapore Airlines, one of the world’s finest airlines, announced a fourth-quarter net loss last week; and Air India, Boeing South Carolina’s first customer, faced a crippling pilot strike last week, in part a consequence of years of bad financial results.
In short, building and flying airplanes safely and profitably is a tough business. Despite its difficulties, Boeing is doing better than most.