Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said Wednesday the defect discovered in Dreamliner fuselage sections made in North Charleston is "pretty easy to understand and pretty easy to fix" and should not impact plans to increase deliveries of the new passenger plane over the next two years.
"We do not expect the issue that surfaced earlier this week on the aft fuselage shims to affect our rate ramp-up plans," McNerney said at an investor conference in New York. "We've already addressed the issue in production, and it's a standard repair procedure for any existing airplanes that might be affected."
Aside from the shimming problem, which grabbed headlines but has been downplayed by several analysts, McNerney's other South Carolina-specific comment came when Cowen and Company Managing Director Cai Von Rumohr asked about eventually making more than 10 Dreamliners per month, the late-2014 goal. He said the supply chain presents a "challenge" without an answer right now but that having factories in Everett, Wash. and North Charleston is an advantage.
"Having two separate independent facilities gives us some choice and some additional infrastructure to leverage that we wouldn't normally have in this situation," he said. "And that's part of the game plan."
Toward the end of the 40-minute afternoon conversation, McNerney also hinted at Boeing's plans to somehow reduce its employees' pensions. He said the current plan is "something that we've got to take care of."
Boeing has already embraced defined contribution as a way to cut retiree costs, according to McNerney.
"And we're going to continue to think that way," he said.
You can hear a recording of McNerney's full remarks here: http://j.mp/xqtr1B