Gleeful Boeing hands first 787 to Japan's ANA

Updated: 2011-09-27 11:29


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Gleeful Boeing hands first 787 to Japan's ANA

Boeing employees view a 787 Dreamliner scheduled for delivery to All Nippon Airways (ANA) of Japan during a delivery ceremony at Paine Field in Everett, Washington Sept 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

SEATTLE - Boeing Co workers presented the company's first 787 Dreamliner in the pouring rain to All Nippon Airways on Monday, capping nearly a decade of development of the world's most advanced jetliner.

Around 500 Seattle workers flanked the gleaming, carbon-composite aircraft as it was slowly towed towards its Japanese buyers at a podium outside the planemaker's mammoth Everett, Washington, production plant.

"It's very exciting; I hope to ride on it someday," said Jeffrey Goulet, a manufacturing planner on the 787 program at Everett, surrounded by several thousand Boeing employees, whooping with glee despite the constant rain.

"Embodied in this incredible machine are 95 years of Boeing aerospace know-how," said Boeing Chief Executive Jim McNerney at the handover ceremony, acknowledging the long, rocky road the Dreamliner has traveled.

Supplier problems, late design changes and a two-month strike on the production line have put the new aircraft more than three years behind schedule.

Under Boeing's program accounting - which allows it to smooth out costs over many years - McNerney said the 787 was already profitable. He said cash from sales of each plane will outweigh costs per plane later this decade.

Boeing shares rose 4.2 percent on Monday to close at $62.01 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"I cannot wait to see the day when the skies of the world are filled with 787s," said ANA Chief Executive Shinichiro Ito, whose airline originally expected to receive its first 787 in May 2008.

Hundreds of Boeing workers were taught on the eve of the ceremony how to bow in unison as a mark of respect for ANA's Ito, whose company formally took control of the first of its 55 Dreamliners on Sunday.

"Thank you for your patience," one Boeing employee hollered at Ito during the ceremony.

The event was a tonic for Boeing workers after the last-minute cancellation of the delivery of the first 747-8 freighter to Cargolux last week, which was to have featured a performance by the Steve Miller Band.

Hard work ahead

The planemaker's Everett wide-body production facility - where the handover ceremony took place - is packed with undelivered aircraft in a sign of an inventory build-up pegged at more than $16 billion, sitting on the Boeing balance sheet.

Dozens of aircraft were parked around the site in various stages of readiness, some with billowing plastic covers over their cockpits and engines or with weight-balancing yellow blocks hanging off the wings where the engines will be.

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