The distraction of a global grounding of Boeing’s 787-8 could have repercussions on the launch of the 787-10X variant as airlines focus on the flight ban, says Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner.

“Having the fleet down now has slowed things down a bit,” for launching the -10X, Conner said today during the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Defense Conference in New York. The -10X is a higher-density version of the stretched 787-9 that is scheduled to complete final design approval and end final assembly mid-year.

“I think we would have been in a lot better shape in having people cross the finish line” to launch the -10X had the world’s fleet of 50 operating 787-8s not been grounded, Conner added.

During his speech Conner also singled out the strains of increased production rates across Boeing’s product line last year but remained committed to bringing monthly 787 production to seven aircraft mid-year and 10 by year-end.

Conner also said Boeing is committed to delivering 60 787s this year, even though the grounding has forced the manufacturer to park 787s outside its factories.