has halted deliveries of all major component sections of the 787 to account for “temporary challenges” from “a few production areas in the supply chain,” according to a company spokesman.
The delivery stoppage to its final assembly lines will not affect the delivery of the firstto , which is still on schedule for August or September.
The hold is being undertaken as the company and its global supply chain adjust to a 40% ramp-up in production rates across all of its product lines over the next three years. The 787’s current rate is nominally two per month but is to reach 2.5 by the end of the summer and 10 by the end of 2013.
Reaching that goal will require its supply chain to answer demand for seven aircraft per month at Boeing’s main final assembly line in Everett, Wash., and three per month at its second final assembly line in North Charleston, S.C.
That facility received its first fuselage assembly, a horizontal stabilizer from Alenia Aeronautica, in late June. Since then, it has taken delivery of wings from Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Korea Airlines Aerospace Division, Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing Australia, and a tail cone produced in North Charleston. It will continue to receive the rest of the fuselage assemblies through the end of August.
Boeing does not break down employment by factory function in North Charleston but reports that it has 4,000 workers at the site, which also makes the aft fuselage and integrates the mid-cabin sections. One thousand workers have been added in the past year.
As it struggled with supplier integration issues last year, Boeing used repeated production holds, so that manufacturing lines—its own in Everett and those of its suppliers—could catch up with work. “It’s a proven approach,” says spokesman Scott Lefeber.
This is the first stoppage in 2011. It was called to enable suppliers to account for “part shortages and some engineering change incorporation,” he says, referring to design changes prompted by the 787’s flight test program.
The hold is to last “roughly” 20 days. Boeing’s lines do only minimal work on weekends, so 20 days translates to roughly a full month’s work, given that there are only 21-22 work days in a month. As such, full work is not expected to resume until August, although Boeing is not giving an exact schedule.
Lefeber said not all of the seven major structures assembly makers are equally affected by the part shortages or engineering changes. He declined to say which ones are.
Boeing Chairman and CEO James McNerney and CFO James Bell are expected to shed further light on how well the 787 supply chain is holding up when they offer delivery guidance for the rest of the year during a second-quarter earnings call Wednesday morning. Boeing has been planning to make 12-20 deliveries this year.