The executive, W. James McNerney, told analysts that preliminary data “points more in that direction.”
The National Transportation Safety Board issued an interim report on Monday, saying that a laboratory examination of intact sections of the roof found that rivet holes on one layer of the plane’s skin did not line up properly with an underlying layer.
A five-foot hole suddenly ripped open in the cabin roof on April 1, forcing the Southwest jet to make an emergency landing in Arizona.
The safety board did not draw any conclusions about the cause of the rupture, which occurred at 34,000 feet. Independent experts said they were surprised that Boeing’s inspectors had not caught such a basic mistake when the plane was built in the mid-1990s.
Mr. McNerney said federal investigators were still sorting out what happened.
His comments came as Boeing announced that its first-quarter earnings rose 13 percent to $586 million, or 78 cents a share, from $519 million, or 70 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue slipped 2 percent to $14.9 billion, from $15.2 billion, on weaker revenue in the commercial airplane business.
The company, which also has a large military business, reaffirmed its guidance for the year, with revenue expected to be $68 billion to $71 billion and earnings to be $3.80 to $4 a share.
Mr. McNerney said that Boeing remained on track to make the first deliveries of its new 747-8 freighter and its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner passenger plane, and that it still expected to deliver 25 to 40 of these two models this year.
He said the 787 deliveries would include a mix of the first planes it has built, which have needed extensive reworking to fix poorly made parts from suppliers, and the latest jets, which are coming off the production line in much better shape.
The 787, built with lightweight composite materials to lower fuel costs, has attracted more sales — about 850 — than any commercial plane in history. But the production problems have added billions of dollars in costs, and Mr. McNerney said the project’s profitability would eventually be decided by how well longer-range versions of the plane sell.
Mr. McNerney also said that Airbus’s plan to update its A320 series with new engines was taking sales from smaller competitors, like Canada’s Bombardier, rather than from Boeing. He said Boeing was still likely to forgo changing the engines on its 737 models and seek to introduce a new plane by 2019 or 2020.