Boeing shares have reached an all-time high. The company’s stock jumped nearly 5 percent to $168.50 after it said it expects to generate $10.75 billion in operating cash in 2017.
“We led the industry in commercial airplane deliveries for the fifth consecutive year, achieved healthy sales in our defense, space and services segments, and produced record operating cash flow, which fueled investment in innovation and our people and generated significant returns to shareholders,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing’s president, CEO and chairman. “Looking forward, our team is intent on accelerating productivity and program execution to deliver increasing cash and profitability from our large and diverse order backlog of nearly $500 billion.”
A big reason behind the profits is the 787 Dreamliner, a trailblazer in aerospace composites. After nearly a decade of profit loss, the Dreamliner is no longer loss-making and is finally being manufactured for less than its sales price. During the fourth quarter of 2016, Boeing delivered its 500th 787 Dreamliner and began final assembly of the first 787-10 aircraft.
The 787 Dreamliner is the first major commercial airplane to have a composite fuselage, composite wings, and use composites in most other airframe components. A 2007 report from Toray notes that each 787 contains approximately 77,000 pounds of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP), made with 23 tons of carbon fiber.
According to ACMA’s CompositesLab, the Dreamliner is an example of the aerospace industry’s transition from aluminum to greater use of composite materials. By using composites to manufacture 50 percent of the 787’s airframe, Boeing takes 20 percent of the weight off the aircraft compared to conventional aluminum designs. The remainder of the plane is constructed primarily of a combination of aluminum, steel and titanium.