EVERETT, WASHINGTON: Nearly one month after the US Federal Aviation Administration grounded the Boeing 787 due to lithium ion battery failures, people have started to wonder just how many more spaces are available for undelivered 787s to be parked at the airframer’s Everett factory.
Yesterday evening I took a look around the assembly plant, and saw myriad 787s painted in various airline liveries, awaiting a fix to the battery issue, and delivery to customers.
Boeing is currently assembling one 787 about every five days. Some industry observers in attendance at this week’s Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) conference in Lynnwood, Washington opined that Boeing has enough room to park another 15 787s, though one Boeing executive told me that the airframer could potentially start parking 787s on one of the two open runways at Paine Field [incidentally, movement is afoot to bring commercial operations to Paine Field].
During a presentation at PNAA today, Boeing VP, marketing Randy Tinseth gave a statement about the 787 grounding, saying, “As you can imagine this has been a really tough several weeks for the 787 program and for our 787 customers. We deeply regret the impact grounding the fleet has had on those customers and the travelling public. As you can imagine our teams are working 24/7, with the FAA and other government agencies to get the airplane back in the air. Getting the 787 back in the air is our number one priority. I want to thank those teams for their hard work, you our suppliers for supporting the process, and thank our customers for their support in this difficult time.”
He added, “We continue to build five  planes per month and have no plans to change production plans.” After his presentation, Tinseth declined to accept questions about the 787.
Whilst Boeing is reticent to predict when the 787 will be able to return to commercial service, well-known industry veteran Scott Hamilton offered his opinion. “I don’t think you’ll see the airplane back in the air for 90 to 120 days,” said Hamilton. If he is right and Boeing continues producing 787s at the current rate – as Tinseth suggests it will – the airframer may need to find more space for parked 787s.
See Boeing’s 787 secondary storage area below.