will raise the production rate for its 787-9 aircraft to 12 per month by 2016, the airframe manufacturer said Wednesday, citing increased demand for its flagship passenger jet despite ongoing service reliability challenges encountered by airlines.
[Boeing 787 production facility in Everett, Wash. Photo, courtesy of Boeing.
The rate increased was announced along with a third quarter earnings report, which showed Boeing receiving $22 billion in revenues, a $2 billion increase from the same period a year ago. During the third quarter, the company received 170 commercial aircraft orders, 23 of which were for the 787, which came in third in demand for the quarter behind the 777 and 737 family of passenger jets.
"Consistently strong operating performance is driving higher earnings, revenue and cash flow as we deliver on our record backlog and return increased value to shareholders," said Jim McNerney, chairman and CEO of Boeing. "During the quarter, commercial airplanes completed the first flight of the 787-9 and delivered 170 airplanes, while Defense, Space and Security maintained solid performance and captured $7 billion in new orders."
Airlines continue to order the 787 despite the grounding of the worldwide fleet that occurred earlier this year due to issues with the aircraft's lithium-ion battery system. More recently, discount carrier Norwegian Air reported problems with the braking system and cockpit oxygen-supply on two of its 787s.
Also, last week a fuselage body panel fell of a Boeing 787 operated by Air India as it prepared to land.
No passengers were injured during either of theses incidents, though Boeing engineers are currently investigating the issues with each airline.
During a conference call McNerney said improving the reliability of the 787 is one of his company's top priorities right now.
Boeing completed the first flight of its 787-9 during the third quarter, and also launched the 787-10 program based on strong demand with 90 confirmed orders for the largest variant of the 787.