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Fri, Dec 23, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Boeing says 787 on track to begin service in 2008

AP , SEATTLE

Boeing Co said it plans to deliver 112 of its new 787 airplanes in 2008 and 2009, and is still on track to get the plane into service early in the summer of 2008.

In a telephone briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Mike Bair, Boeing's vice president and general manager of the 787 program, added that if all tentative commitments for the airplane firm up, it could be sold out through the first part of 2012.

But he noted that some of those tentative deals could fall through, meaning that other airlines would be able to grab production line slots for planes to be delivered before 2012. For example, Bair said Australia's Qantas Airways was able to strike a deal last week for 787s that will be delivered beginning in 2008 because another contract didn't work out.

Still, Bair said the company could soon reach a point where it is unable to provide potential customers with airplanes as quickly as they might want them.

Bair said Chicago-based Boeing plans to begin producing the 787s as early as 2007, and will store an unspecified number of planes while it awaits certification. That will allow the company to deliver a big batch of 787s once it enters service.

He said the company is still figuring out what the production rate for 787s will be after the initial deliveries, but he vowed not to repeat the production problems that plagued the company and hurt business in the late 1990s.

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