Boeing has rolled out the first Dreamliner to be built at the increased production rate of seven aircraft per month.
The new B787, which will be delivered to British Airways, becomes the 114th B787 to be built overall and the 100th to be built at Boeing’s main factory in Washington state. The Dreamliner’s production rate will be further raised to 10 aircraft per month by the end of the year, as Boeing aims to reduce its huge order backlog for the aircraft.
The US planemaker had delivered 50 B787s before the grounding of the aircraft in January 2013 forced it to suspend all new aircraft deliveries. And despite the three-month delay, it is still planning deliver at least 60 Dreamliners this year as it bids to clear the backlog of more than 800 B787s orders from 58 customers. Production of the aircraft continued during the grounding – albeit at a slower rate – so Boeing should be able to make quick progress with the new deliveries, once it fits the new battery units into all of its aircraft.
Aside from BA, airlines expected to receive new Dreamliners in the coming months include existing customers Air India, JAL, ANA, LOT Polish Airlines and Qatar Airways, along with new operators Hainan Airlines, TUI Travel (for Thomson Airways) and China Southern Airlines. Leasing company ILFC is also expected to receive its first B787, which it will lease to Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Ethiopian Airlines became the first airline to relaunch Dreamliner flights following the recent grounding, and was quickly followed by Qatar Airways. United Airlines has confirmed that its B787s will resume flights on 20 May, initially on domestic routes from Houston, while ANA revealed last week that it will relaunch Dreamliner services on 1 June, with new routes to Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei, as well as the resumption of its Frankfurt and San Jose services. JAL is likely to follow suit later in June.
The increase of the Dreamliner’s production rate to 10 aircraft per month reflects the continued confidence of the aviation sector, with airlines continuing to invest in new aircraft – especially those viewed as being fuel-efficient. Boeing also recently ramped up the production rates of its B737 and B777 programmes, although the B747-8 series has been cut back due to a lack of demand.