Boeing falls short of target

Boeing reported 25 new orders for the 787 Dreamliner on Thursday, but did not disclose who bought them.

JOEL HAWKSLEY

SEATTLE -- Boeing Co. missed its aircraft delivery target in 2011 after shipping fewer 787 Dreamliners and 747-8 jumbo jets to customers than planned, while larger rival Airbus SAS topped its own higher goal.

The handover of three 787s and nine 747-8s by Dec. 31 was short of Boeing's October goal of delivering a combined 15 to 20 because "we just couldn't get all the work done on those airplanes to get them out the door by the end of the year," Randy Tinseth, commercial-jet marketing chief, said Thursday.

The deficit meant that Boeing delivered 477 commercial jets, short of an October projection for 480.

In contrast, Airbus beat its target and released more than 530 planes to customers, said two people familiar with the figures.

"The shortfall of deliveries has reminded people that there are still challenges ahead" as Boeing works toward its goal of assembling 10 Dreamliners a month by the end of 2013, said Rob Stallard, an analyst with RBC Capital.

Workers are building 2.5 a month. Boeing's new North Charleston assembly plant began piecing together its first 787 last summer. The jet is scheduled to be delivered to Air India in the second quarter of this year.

Boeing also reported 25 new orders for the 787 on Thursday, without saying who had bought them.

The Dreamliner was more than three years late after a series of delays when it was turned over to its initial customer, Japan's All Nippon Airways, in September. The 747-8 was two years behind schedule when Cargolux Airlines International received the first one in October.

"Boeing has a good track record of consistently missing their own targets," Stallard said.

For the Dreamliner, "we expect lumpy deliveries and are therefore not overly concerned with 3-4 deliveries slipping out of 2011 and into 2012," Citigroup Global Markets analyst Jason Gursky said Wednesday.

Timing is significant, because Boeing gets about 40 percent of the payments from airlines upon delivery.

The new 787 assembly line in South Carolina and a temporary "surge" line being constructed next to the initial line in Washington state are in good shape, Citigroup's Gursky said. That suggests Boeing can meet its production goal by 2013 once it finishes reworking jets built during the three-year delay, he wrote.

The Post and Courier contributed to this report.