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Originally published June 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 28, 2007 at 4:13 PM

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Major Boeing partner behind schedule on 787

Vought Aircraft, a major partner on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner program, faces "ongoing schedule slippage" in obtaining parts it is supposed...

Seattle Times aerospace reporter

Vought Aircraft, a major partner on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner program, faces "ongoing schedule slippage" in obtaining parts it is supposed to install before shipping fuselage sections to Everett.

CEO Elmer Doty acknowledged the issue in a memo Friday, calling it "our thorniest problem." But his message assured Vought's employees in Charleston, S.C., that their program will overcome the difficulties: "These issues will get fixed and we will move on to the next ones."

Vought builds the Dreamliner's aft fuselage, the first of which was recently delivered to Everett.

The memo followed press coverage Thursday of the departure of the Vought executive heading its 787 program. Vought fired vice president Ted Perdue at the end of May, according to a person at the company, after performance problems on the Dreamliner program.

Perdue was appointed in October 2006 to lead the 787 division. A memo announcing his departure said only that he left "to pursue other interests."

But Doty's memo Friday made clear that there are ongoing supply-chain issues at the Vought operation.

"Bottom line up front: We have some challenges — just like everybody else," Doty wrote. "Our job is to identify, attack and fix challenges as they arise."

Boeing's major 787 partners are supposed to install a variety of systems and interior equipment inside the basic airframe segments before they deliver the big sections to Everett. The company has acknowledged some of that work will not get completed by some partners as they crunch to ship the first sections.

Instead, an expanded staff of mechanics on the final assembly line in Everett will install those systems on the initial planes.

"Our thorniest problem is the ongoing schedule slippage of some key purchased components that we install in the fuselage," Doty's memo said.

"We have lots of experience with problems like this and know exactly what to do. ... We had to hit this one fast and hard and we have. Other issues we are facing are pretty routine to fix.

"I don't want to gloss over the challenges, only to put things in perspective," Doty wrote. "We have some work to do, but ... we can get these issues corrected in short order."

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Boeing has refused to comment on the matter.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com

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