Boeing keeps building grounded jets

Jan. 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM
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CHICAGO, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. planemaker Boeing said it has not slowed 787 Dreamliner production despite electric fires that have the jet grounded around the world.

As of yet, there is no conclusive evidence on what has caused at least two ion-lithium battery fires on Dreamliners that have caused safety regulators to order the planes grounded, CNNMoney reported Saturday.

Boeing has sold 50 Dreamliners and produces an average of five per month at facilities in South Carolina and Washington.

Industry analysts Carter Leake at BB&T Capital Markets said Boeing had no choice but to keep manufacturing planes. Companies that make parts for the Dreamliner "barely survived the three year delay in producing the first plane," Leake said.

That meant supply companies that were now expecting regular orders from Boeing could likely not afford another setback.

"If it stopped it would be very difficult to start production again," said Chris DeNicolo,an industry credit analyst for Standard & Poor's.

Boeing spokeswoman Kate Bergman said production lines were operating on a business as usual basis, but would not say what the company was doing with planes that were built but not delivered.

Boeing has orders for 800 Dreamliner jets. Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said her agency planned to be "methodical" in its search for a cause for the fires.

"This is not something we expect will be solved overnight," Hersman said.

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