Boeing has 24 hours of flight testing left on the 787 Dreamliner and hopes to finish that this weekend, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Albaugh said Thursday.
Boeing is three years late delivering the first 787. After first delivery, the biggest challenge will be ramping up production to the 10-a-month rate the company plans to reach by late 2013.
The other new airplane Boeing plans to deliver in September is the 747-8 Freighter, followed next year by the 747-8 Intercontinental, which is the passenger version of the stretched 747.
Boeing has orders for 114 747-8s, with commitments it will announce for 22 more.
Boeing has seen much more interest this year for the 777, with net orders for 98 of its largest twin-engine wide-body, including seven added Thursday for an unidentified customer or customers.
Boeing just announced that it will upgrade its 737 with new, more-efficient engines, rather than replacing the single-aisle airplane.
But Boeing executives didn’t know what the production system would look like to produce 50 or 60 composite airplanes a month and waiting for those answers would have pushed first delivery to 2021 or 2022.
Airbus has notched orders and commitments for more than 1,000 of its re-engined A320neo since launching the program last December.
Meanwhile, the company is continuing to work on a new small airplane, Albaugh said.
Executives still aren’t sure if it will replace the 737 or be larger, in the 757 to 767 range.
Boeing wants to whittle down its backlog, which stands at 3,432 airplanes, including 2,146 737s.
Boeing plans to boost 737 production from the current rate of 31.5 a month to 35 early next year, 38 in the second quarter of 2013 and 42 in the first half of 2014, and envisions building 50 to 60 a month by the end of the decade.
The company boosted 777 production from five to seven a month this year and plans to go to 8.3 a month in the first quarter of 2013.