Thursday, June 26, 2014

Boeing South Carolina achieves 3/month 787 production rate.

Boeing revealed to its employees yesterday that the South Carolina plant has achieved the planned 787 production rate of 3 airplanes/month when ZA660 (LN 224, 5Y-KZF) entered into position 0 on the final assembly line in plant 88-30 on June 24th.  This aircraft is destined for Kenya Airways and should deliver around September of this year.  I am assuming that Everett will slow down to 7/month given the rate change.  This means that Charleston should load a new 787 every 10 days while Everett will load a 787 every 8.6 days for each line (40-26 and 40-24).

This was an important milestone for this plant especially in light of a muckraking report in a certain Seattle newspaper this past week. 

Boeing managers hope to complete a 787 from loading into the first position to roll out in about 38 days at the new rate.  Prior to the step up in rate, the South Carolina plant was building a 787 in about 46 days and a year ago it was at 70 days. 

The plant will also start building its first 787-9 when ZB170 (LN 269) is loaded into position sometime this fall.  The aircraft will go to United Airlines sometime in March of 2015.
The signs of progress at Boeing South Carolina counters a false belief that the plant and its workers are not up to the challenge of building the 787 in sufficient quantities and quality that would justify the investment that was and is continuing to be made by the company.  As recently as this past week a newspaper report slammed the Boeing South Carolina workers and cast doubt on their ability to make the 787 especially in light of the bonuses that were just paid out to them for reducing the JBS (jobs behind schedule) or other wise known as travelled work. It is my understanding that the JBS number as tracked by Boeing is remaining at a flat rate.  It does appear that some people in the media are looking to highlight every mistake and incident in order to sell newspapers rather than looking at the whole story in proper context.

I attempt to put some context to the 787 production story in the form of a table that I've put together comparing number of 787s that have entered final assembly, finished final assembly and have been delivered.  The table looks at these attributes for Everett, Charleston as well as the total for both plants.

Looking at the table one can see that both plants are producing at their respective assigned rates in terms of loadings and roll outs.  We should ignore January and February as both plants were essentially ramping back up after the 2013 holidays as is  evident from the tables with the low number of loadings, rolls outs, and deliveries.  However starting in March Boeing South Carolina loaded, on average, 2.75 aircraft per month, rolled out an average of 3.25 aircraft per month and delivered an average of 2.5 aircraft per month.  This is through June 25th and I do expect at least one more delivery from North Charleston this month.

Everett has a much higher work load but during the same period the plant has loaded an average of 8 airplanes per month, rolled out an average of 8 airplanes per month and has delivered and average of 6 airplanes per month.  To look at it a different way, I take the average roll outs divided by the average deliveries in order to gauge how efficient each plant is in building and delivering 787s and this is what I have from March through June 25th:

Everett = 8/6 = 1.33
Charleston = 3.25/2.5 = 1.3

The lower the number the more efficient the plant is in building and delivering aircraft.  This shows that Charleston looks to be slightly more efficient in delivering the 787.  Please note that this is a little incomplete as we have to complete the month of June and there is at least one more 787 line move in Everett to come as well as more deliveries from each location.  Additionally, this tables ignores where the aircraft was delivered from, i.e. Charleston built aircraft for Qatar but delivered from Everett was a delivery from Charleston.




grahamj said...

I would expect that Everett will remain at 8/mo for some time as Boeing needs headroom relative to its delivery goals in case something goes wrong again.

greg said...

Why not keep going at 8 + 3 = 11 monthly rate?

The airlines are eager to get their hands on the aircraft.

Uresh said...

2 reasons:
1 supply chain is producing and contracted for 10/month not 11.
2 Boeing wants to carefully manage the increase in rate from 10 to 12.

larmeyers said...

Speaking of Charleston,good to see a 789 scheduled for Charleston (LN269 UA). I think that would time out to a November load at current rates. Is that the first of the type to be assembled there?

TravelingMan said...

It's a few days old but here's an interesting article on Emirates and their impending order of either the A350 or the Dreamliner:

Piotrek_ said...

LN14 will probably get GEnx-1B engines too. Pylons have been removed from the frame, and LN17 is now outside the EMC, as LN19 was few days ago. They're probably switching pylons of RAM's former frames with LN11 and LN14.