How Boeing is fighting back from disaster – and killing off the 747

“I’m not going to sugarcoat the fact [that there is] disappointment among our customers that we haven’t been able to deliver, when they want [and] what they want,” says Darren Hulst, one of Boeing’s marketing executives.

“Our goal is to continue to find ways to work with our customers to make those aircraft available when they need them.”

Boeing’s production travails, coupled with a battle to convince regulators to sign off the airworthiness of its jets, come with the territory of being the world’s biggest plane maker.

Hulst stresses the plans are far superior in comparison with those built by Airbus in terms of fuel efficiency and economic performance – claims its rival would dispute.

Outside of Boeing’s control?

The jury is out on whether Boeing can return to the undisputed position as the world’s pre-eminent plane maker.

What seems certain is that in order to regain past glories, Boeing needs to start delivering more plans.

The production blockages of the Max and 787 are “partially based on factors outside of most individuals’ control,” Sheila Kahyaoglu of Jefferies said earlier this month.

A fifth of the backlog of Max orders, some 823 aircraft, are Max-7 and Max-10 jets. Assembling and delivering those aircraft depends on regulators such as America’s Federal Aviation Authority giving Boeing the green light to bring them into service.

Boeing is similarly at the mercy of regulators to return the Dreamliners to full production while labor shortages and supply chain issues, endemic across much of the Western world, compound the situation.

Despite everything, chief executive Calhoun remains bullish about Boeing’s prospects.

“Demand for airplanes is as robust as I’ve ever seen it. I think it will get more robust,” he said from the new corporate headquarters in Arlington, Virginia last week.

Fleming, who arguably has the toughest job at Boeing, in returning the 737 Max to service, is equally as optimistic: “It’s a good problem to have when the demand is not your problem”.


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