Date
16 December 2017
Luxury seats are shown on a Qatar Airways Dreamliner jet. They are as reportedly as expensive as a Ferrari and are as complex to build as a small car. Photo: Internet
Luxury seats are shown on a Qatar Airways Dreamliner jet. They are as reportedly as expensive as a Ferrari and are as complex to build as a small car. Photo: Internet

Luxury touches holding up Boeing deliveries

For a touch of luxury, Boeing Co. may miss its 2014 delivery target for the 787 Dreamliner, already plagued by development delays.

Everything is on hold while the aircraft maker awaits a shipment of luxury seats that are as costly as a Ferrari and as complex to build as a small car, according to Bloomberg.

Engineers at France’s Zodiac Aerospace are struggling to meet demand for the custom seats and a Texas strike also slowed output, chief executive Olivier Guy Zarrouati was quoted as saying.

Those woes stalled a handover of American Airlines’ first 787s this month.

Boeing is trying to show it has fixed the production snags on the first jetliner made chiefly of composite materials.

The Chicago-based company needs 14 December deliveries, one shy of its monthly record, to meet its annual forecast for 11, and will keep its delivery center near Seattle open during the year-end holidays to handle an anticipated late-month rush.

“Our guidance has not changed for 110 deliveries,” Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

Getting the premium, lie-flat seats on time from manufacturers is crucial for Boeing because they can require extensive rewiring, ductwork changes and reinforced cabin floors. Units arriving out of sequence may also have to be disassembled to fit through the doors, the report said.

Boeing has not reported any new factory issues on the 787 such as the hairline cracking that crimped deliveries earlier this year.

Zodiac is also behind schedule on deliveries of luxury seats for Airbus Group N.V.’s A350 jet, chief executive Zarrouati said on the conference call after the Plaisir, France-based company reported earnings.

He blamed a month-long strike in Gainesville, Texas, that ended Oct. 25 and engineering teams stressed by heavy workloads as airlines seek to put their stamp on the angled, lie-flat seats in an effort to attract business travelers.

The seatmaker is working through its backlog of delayed shipments and should be back on schedule by mid-2015, Zarrouati said.

“We’re still late with some deliveries and we’re still in a scenario where we are recovering, getting back to normal,” he said.

Premium seats can cost airlines more than US$200,000 each because expensive finishes and development costs for complex motors are spread over relatively few units, said Robert Mann, an aviation consultant based in Port Washington, New York.

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