SEATTLE – Boeing executives maintained a positive outlook for the year ahead as they reported healthy first quarter profits Wednesday.
Despite the clouds of volcanic ash lingering over parts of Europe, they project a continued global economic recovery that will buoy the aviation business.
In a teleconference with analysts and press, chief executive Jim McNerney expressed renewed confidence in the schedule for Boeing’s two major jet development programs currently in flight test: the 787 Dreamliner and the 747-8 jumbo jet.
Jim Albaugh, head of the commercial airplanes division, also spoke glowingly about the 787’s performance in a separate interview with the Seattle Times.
He said flight test data show the 787 looks increasingly like the market game-changer Boeing projected it would be and will meet all the performance targets promised the airlines.
“Based on what I see from a performance standpoint, from an aerodynamic standpoint, from an engine standpoint, from a weight and range standpoint, I think we are going to be OK,” Albaugh said. “The performance of the airplane very closely meets the models we had in place … We’re starting to feel very confident.”
As the chaos in Europe appears to be lifting, Albaugh said he doesn’t anticpate any impact on jet deliveries from Boeing’s factories.
Asked about the Air Force refueling tanker competition, a day after Airbus parent EADS re-entered the race for the $40 billion contract and stated its goal to beat Boeing on price, Albaugh took a dig at Airbus for its receipt of subsidies to fund airplane development.
“We do have to make money with our programs,” he said, “We develop our airplanes the old-fashioned way. We pay for them ourselves.”
“The good news is we’ve got another 60 days now to try to drive the cost of this airplane down,” Albaugh added. “I think we’ll be very, very competitive.”
Boeing posted $519 million in profits in the first quarter, on revenue of $15 billion. Profit margins were just over 9 percent for the quarter in the commercial jet division.
Boeing shares were up $2.75 to $74.16 in trading Wednesday.