(For more on Boeing's long-awaited 787 Dreamliner, see
* Boeing celebrates first Dreamliner delivery
* Workers to hand-delivery first plane to ANA
* Shares up more than 3 pct
By Tim Hepher
SEATTLE, Sept 26 Boeing Co (BA.N) workers
limbered up for a ceremony to hand-deliver -- literally -- the
company's first 787 Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways (9202.T)
on Monday as company shares rose more than 3 percent on the
The 500 Seattle workers were set to pull the
carbon-composite plane about 100 yards to its Japanese buyers
at a podium outside the planemaker's mammoth Everett,
Washington, production plant in a celebration capping nearly a
decade of development of the world's most advanced jetliner.
The hand-delivery is a vivid demonstration of the
airplane's lightweight structure, which promises 20 percent
fuel savings for airlines, but also of the snail's pace of
production following numerous delays.
Investors are now waiting to see whether Boeing can pull a
rabbit out a hat and meet its production goals after three
years of delays and seven postponements. [ID:nS1E78O09V]
"Now is the time for Boeing looking forwards and not
backward, concentrate on the manufacturing process and satisfy
the customer," said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at
London brokerage BGC Partners. "Once they do that the rest will
fall into place."
Boeing shares, were up 3.3 percent at $61.49 on Monday
morning on the New York Stock Exchange. (Graphic on Dreamliner
timeline: r.reuters.com/hyx83s )
The delivery ceremony was due to take place at the
planemaker's Everett wide-body production facility, which is
packed with undelivered aircraft in a sign of an inventory
build-up pegged at more than $16 billion, sitting on the Boeing
Dozens of aircraft are parked around the site in various
stages of readiness, some with billowing plastic covers over
their cockpits and engines or with weight-balancing yellow
blocks hanging off the wings where the engines would be.
BOWING IN RESPECT
Hundreds of Boeing workers were taught on the eve of the
ceremony how to bow in unison as a mark of respect for ANA
President Shinichiro Ito whose company formally took control of
the first of its 55 Dreamliners on Sunday.
ANA expressed confidence in Boeing's ability to build the
rest of its fleet on time, including 12 airplanes due by
end-March and eight in the following 12 months. But after seven
delays, analysts say Boeing must work hard to prevent further
Boeing plans to lift production to 10 787 Dreamliners a
month by the end of 2013, while also pushing up production of
the 737 narrowbody, upgrading the same model and gearing up for
production of a 767 aerial tanker for the U.S. Air Force.
"We share some apprehension with the market about the
achievability of that plan, which will take us to a very high
production rate for a wide-body aircraft," said aerospace
analyst Carter Copeland at Barclays Capital in New York.
"Given the stops and starts and problems it is natural for
investors to have some concerns about achievability but the
company seems confident."
A Boeing official said production problems at a key Italian
supplier were no longer seen as a "pacing item," or potential
source of bottlenecks that define how quickly it can raise 787
production from the current rate of about two aircraft a
The company plans to make a decision on when to go to the
next step "soon," he said, adding it could proceed in
increments of one aircraft or even half an aircraft a month.
Boeing's Everett plant contains four 787s in one bay of its
giant assembly hall, with other 787s parked in an area set
aside for completion work. Each aircraft currently stays for 10
days at each point on the line, but this will have to be
accelerated as production increases.
The main line is designed to rise to seven aircraft a
month. A second temporary "surge" line is being readied to
tackle three aircraft a month when necessary and a planned
facility at North Charleston, South Carolina, will assemble
three a month.
The surge line will partly allow Boeing to smooth out
alterations of production flow between between two models of
aircraft currently on sale.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher in Seattle, editing by Matthew