Near-peak efficiency helping Boeing track Dreamliner delivery goals

Boeing has delivered 54 of its 787 Dreamliners through May.

Through the first five months of this year, Boeing Co. is well on its way to meeting its goal for Dreamliner deliveries.

Boeing’s South Carolina and Everett, Wash., factories combined to deliver 13 of the jets last month — bringing the total to 54 deliveries through May. The planemaker has said it wants to deliver 120 Dreamliners by the end of this year. At its current production rate, Boeing will bring nearly 130 787s to customers when 2015 closes out.

The May totals are the first since Boeing announced last month that it will shut down a temporary Dreamliner assembly line near Seattle earlier than planned.

The decision to discontinue the “surge line” — created to help meet production goals if the lines in North Charleston or Everett fell behind — came because of efficiency gains in North Charleston, according to Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina.

The North Charleston and Everett assembly lines are operating at essentially the same efficiency, according to the “All Things 787” website created by Dreamliner analyst Uresh Sheth. His efficiency ratio measures the number of production roll-outs versus the number of deliveries, with a ratio of 1 — an equal number of both — the optimum.

North Charleston’s efficiency ratio was 0.75 — three roll-outs and four deliveries — in May while Everett’s was 0.78 — seven roll-outs and nine deliveries. Year-to-date, the local plant is operating at a near-optimum efficiency ratio of 0.94 — 17 roll-outs versus 16 deliveries. Everett’s ratio is 1.03 — 36 roll-outs and 37 deliveries.

The North Charleston factory delivered three 787-8s — two to TUI Travel, a British leisure travel group, and one to Avianca, Colombia’s national airline — and a 787-9 to United Airlines.

This is the second consecutive month that the North Charleston campus has brought four 787s to customers.

Sheth is projecting a combined 14 Dreamliner deliveries for both production sites this month.

Boeing announced last week that it took one order for a 787-9 in May, for TUI. That brings the number of Dreamliner orders to 45 for the year. Overall, Boeing Commercial Airplanes notched 11 orders in May, all but one of them for the popular 737.

Boeing has 164 commercial airplane orders so far this year. By contrast, its France-based competitor, Airbus, has netted 225 commercial airplane orders in 2015.

Boeing’s orders and deliveries totals were announced as the manufacturer prepares for the Paris Air Show, one of the world’s largest international airplane exhibitions. It starts next week.

Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_