The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner battery debacle may be the face of the aerospace company’s problems. However, just below that surface is a much larger one. Boeing has fallen far behind Airbus in deliveries and orders. Those two things are probably more critical to Boeing future than whether it repairs the 787 this month or next.
The list of indictments of Boeing Chairman and CEO W. James McNerney Jr. continues to grow. His administration at Boeing began in 2005 at about the same time as development of the 787 began in earnest. All of the delays and flaws of the project have happened on his watch.
Boeing’s new problem, based on the numbers, is terrible. The Wichita Business Journal reported:
Airbus on Thursday announced it has won 431 orders for commercial aircraft in the first quarter, nearly doubling the 193 orders the Boeing Co. won during the same period.
However, according to a report from Reuters, the Boeing figure does not include a 175-jet order it secured with Ryanair last month, which would narrow Airbus’ lead to 63 aircraft.
Airbus also topped Boeing in deliveries in the first quarter, reporting 144 to Boeing’s 137.
Boeing’s future plane orders are bound to be set back by the 787’s problems. Several airlines have expressed dismay with the plane’s mechanical problems and the resulting delays in delivery. Probably just as important is the view of many in the flying public that the plane is dangerous. That is a long-term issue airlines that use the 787 have to reverse, which may not be easy.
Week by week, investors become more impatient with McNerney and the weak board that has kept him on as chief executive. The argument that he cannot be replaced is absurd, since he replaced another CEO, who in turn had just replaced another.
Boeing is in deep trouble by several measures, not the least of which is sales of its planes.