Boeing to decide in June on additional 787 production

Boeing Co. will decide by the end of June whether to ramp up production of its new 787 "Dreamliner," Mike Bair, head of the aerospace giant's 787 program, said Monday.

Production on the fuel-saving 787 is sold out between 2008 and 2010, with some slots left for delivery in 2011.

Boeing could add production capability for deliveries in 2012 and beyond, Bair said during a telephone conference with journalists Monday. "Physically, there's no limit" to how many aircraft Boeing could produce each year. "It's just an investment decision."

So far, Boeing has 393 orders and commitments for the 787. With 350 firm orders since its launch last year, the 787 is Boeing's most successful new aircraft launch.

Some airlines have asked rival Airbus to make changes to its design for the new A350 aircraft, a direct competitor to the 787. Bair said it doesn't appear that Boeing's customers are delaying orders of the 787 to see what Airbus plans to bring to the market. Bair said 787 customers are mainly worried about getting delivery as soon as possible.

So far, Bair said, Boeing remains on track to deliver the first 787s in 2008. But, he said, when building a complex new aircraft, "you could get surprises at any time."

On Monday, Boeing said it had reached a major milestone for the 787, completing design of 25 percent of the aircraft's parts, including the largest pieces, such as the fuselage and wing skins.

Assembly of the first 787 aircraft is scheduled to begin in Japan in June, Bair said.

The first flight test is scheduled for late summer in 2007, reports AP.

O.Ch.