Boeing Commercial Chief Confident In 777-9 2025 Delivery Goal

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

For Boeing, this Farnborough Airshow is a critical opportunity to reassure airline and lessor customers that the company can deliver on its promises.

With multiple design, production and delivery setbacks affecting its 737 MAX, 787 and 777X programs, some customers have become increasingly vocal in their frustrations.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the airshow, recorded as a Window Seat podcast, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal acknowledged the concerns.

“Certainty is the name game in the airline industry. And for Boeing, we have to re-earn some trust and we're going to do that one airplane at a time. Simply put, when we say we're going to have an airplane ready, it needs to be ready. That happens at the individual airplane level. The quality's got to be perfect,” he said.

He pointed to specific examples of where Boeing can demonstrate progress, beginning with the 777-9, which will be in the Farnborough static park and participating in the flying display.

“We feel good about where we've set the 777-9 [first deliveries] out in 2025. It'll give us that necessary time to work the regulatory environment and deliver on all of our promises. The good news about the 777, for instance—which will be at the show, and you'll get to see it fly in all its grace and glory—is the fuel burn and the efficiency is right on spec. And it's going to deliver unprecedented environmental benefits to our airline customers,” Deal said.

The 737-10, the largest and newest MAX variant, will also be in the flying display. For the MAX product generally, Boeing is still working on getting a backlog of aircraft out the door after the MAX was grounded because of two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. That work runs in parallel with getting the -10 certified.

“We're continuing to focus on that backlog of inventory airplanes,” Deal said. “Those airplanes have to be brought up to the same build standards of production airplanes. So, it actually takes work to do that. In reality, we spend as much time on those airplanes now as it takes to assemble an airplane and we're driving to increase the output of the inventory airplanes; our customers are demanding it.

“And then we're slowly bringing the production system back and what we're learning is there's more stress in our supply chain, like we've seen at the airports and in other industries, and staffing backup is going to be one of our key watch items as we build up our rates across the 737 MAX. But we'll take it one day at a time and we'll get these rates back up so that our customers can grow.”

Boeing, which did a MAX rate increase early this year, is looking at doing another toward the end of 2022, followed by gradual adjustments through 2023, Deal said.

BCA will release its latest market outlook at the show and Deal sounded optimistic.

“You see airlines in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, India, all talking about international traffic recovery this year. That's great,” he said. “Pacific Rim's lagging. So, I think you'll see that recovery come home and get ready for the market outlook. That's a great opportunity to talk about what those trends are long term. And we'll have that for the show.”

Listen to the Window Seat podcast recording with Stan Deal here.

Karen Walker

Karen Walker is Air Transport World Editor-in-Chief and Aviation Week Network Group Air Transport Editor-in-Chief. She joined ATW in 2011 and oversees the editorial content and direction of ATW, Routes and Aviation Week Group air transport content.