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Supply chain slows Dreamliner production

Seattle Times

While Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner program progresses steadily toward first flight next month, the jet maker is still working to ease remaining supply-chain bottlenecks, executives said Thursday.

At the same time, overall jet sales for the year are way down.

Boeing’s tally of commercial-airplane orders for 2009 climbed out of negative territory to zero this week.

An update to the company’s Web site Thursday showed one 737 ordered by South American airline Aerolineas Argentinas and one 777 sold to an unidentified customer, as well as one 737 cancellation.

That adds up to precisely 60 new orders and 60 cancellations for the year so far.

In dollar terms, the tally remains negative. Most of the new orders are for smaller 737s, while all but one of the cancellations are for more expensive wide-bodies, including 57 of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners.

The market value of the new orders for the year, based on pricing estimates by aircraft-valuation firm Avitas, is about $4.4 billion.

The corresponding value of this year’s cancellations is about $6.6 billion.

Rival jet-maker Airbus had won 30 new orders and canceled 19 previous orders for a net total of 11 as of the end of last month.

At an investor conference Thursday in Washington, D.C., Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said the Dreamliner is Boeing’s “Priority No. 1.”

Boeing started the engines of the first 787 Thursday after the plane was moved to the tarmac last weekend outside its Everett factory.

The “intermediate gauntlet test,” simulating flight conditions, will begin in about two weeks.

The 787 is running about two years behind schedule after four delays, prompting penalty payments to customers.

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