The good news, Calhoun said, is that the interruption in 787 deliveries is happening while demand for so-called widebody jets is weak because the pandemic has crushed long-haul international flying.
“Customers are not knocking down our door to get those airplanes in light of the COVID impact on international traffic,” he said on a call with analysts.
Tension between the US and China is also weighing on Boeing because China is holding up approval for its airlines to resume using about 100 Max jets. Most other major countries approved changes Boeing made to the plane after the crashes, which killed 346 people and led to a 20-month worldwide grounding.
Calhoun predicted China would let Max jets fly by year end. He said technical issues are being resolved, and China will need the planes to handle rising domestic travel and accommodate visitors to next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Boeing's next airliner, the 777X, is running far behind schedule as it faces a tougher review process that grew out of criticism of the Federal Aviation Administration's initial approval of the Max.
And Boeing's space business faces a key moment on Friday, when its reusable Starliner crew capsule is scheduled to make an unmanned orbital test flight 19 months after a mission to the International Space Station failed.
But for now, the Chicago company is celebrating a profit. It said that adjusted second-quarter core profit, which excludes certain unusual items, was 40 cents per share. Wall Street had been projecting a loss of 65 cents per share, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research.