On Thursday, the company's chief engineer for the 787 Dreamliner program stated publicly that Boeing is "just weeks away from" announcing a new delivery schedule for the troubled aircraft. On the one hand, this tallies with CEO Jim McNerney's commitment to provide an update on the schedule sometime "this quarter." On the other hand though, "weeks" appears to offer Boeing considerable wiggle room.
Stay within the lines
Boeing's fiscal third quarter ends on Sept. 30, which is a little less than eight weeks away. Its also less than two "months." So if you read between the lines, Boeing should be able to both keep its CEO's word for him, while also stretching this latest deadline to its limit.
Which I suppose you can view as good news. Boeing's disappointed us so many times already that I suspect shareholders will applaud if management can simply manage to color within the lines this time. But don't expect much more than that, because...
Supplier calls shenanigans
A few weeks ago, I briefed you on Broadpoint AmTech's dour prediction that Boeing won't have its 787 ready for primetime before late in 2010. A couple weeks after that, it was The Seattle Times that further contradicted Boeing, and warned that the 787 wouldn't be ready for so much as a test flight for four to six months.
This week, we received further confirmation that Boeing may be stretching the truth. The CEO of Senior plc, one of Boeing's parts suppliers in the United Kingdom, was quoted earlier this week warning that "a delay of up to six months is not unforeseeable." More disturbing still, Senior disputed Boeing's assertion that production of Boeing's other airplanes will be "close to current levels" in 2010. Says Senior: "Industry expertise don't believe them."
When Boeing customers like Delta (NYSE: DAL ) , Continental (NYSE: CAL ) , and AMR (NYSE: AMR ) doubt Boeing's ability to meet its commitments -- well, that's only natural. For one thing, they've been burned before. On the other, the more pressure they put on the company to deliver, the more likely Boeing will keep making its best efforts to appease them.
What should truly worry Boeing investors are comments like those we've seen lately: from analysts, newspapermen, and now the folks who really get hurt by Boeing's bungling -- parts suppliers like Senior, Honeywell (NYSE: HON ) , United Tech (NYSE: UTX ) , Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE: SPR ) , who depend on Boeing doing its job so that they can do theirs.
If they're beginning to lose faith in Boeing, how can we do otherwise?
The 787 isn't Boeing's only problem, either. Read more about the firm's: