After a 20-month grounding period, aviation safety agencies began recertifying the Boeing 737 MAX at the end of last year. Its first commercial flights since March 2019 followed shortly afterward. Half a year later, Boeing is reportedly looking to the future. Indeed, it is thought that the company will increase its MAX production rate again by late 2022.
As many as 42 aircraft per month
According to reports by Reuters, industry sources have suggested that the production of the Boeing 737 MAX is set to boom next year. Specifically, the output may soar as high as 42 aircraft per month by autumn 2022. This would represent a significant shift compared to the present situation, with Boeing up against both COVID-19 and safety concerns.
This target would see Boeing exceed its existing target for early 2022 by more than 35%. Indeed, Simple Flying reported last month that, by the beginning of next year, the company is hoping to reach an output of 31 aircraft every month. As of last month, 21 airlines had re-activated the type, with Boeing having delivered more than new 80 MAXs post-recertification.
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For the rest of the year, Reuters added that Boeing is aiming to increase monthly MAX production from single figures every to 26 by the end of 2021. Simple Flying reached out to Boeing, with a spokesperson referring to CEO Dave Calhoun’s recent comments that:
“We will continue to assess the production rate plan as we monitor the market environment and engage in customer discussions. The timing of remaining regulatory approvals will also determine our delivery plans and shape our production ramp-up.”
Suspension of production
Although the 737 MAX was grounded worldwide by mid-March in 2019, its production continued initially. Indeed, Boeing only announced that it would be halting its MAX output in December 2019. The suspension came into effect in January 2020.
Boeing decided to enact the suspension due to the considerable backlog of MAX aircraft that had built up. With production continuing at a rate of around 40 aircraft per month at the time, it had more than 400 of the planes that were parked and undelivered.
As such, Boeing decided to dedicate more time and resources to delivering these new aircraft, rather than continuing production and only adding to the backlog. Low-rate production of the Boeing 737 MAX eventually recommenced in late May 2020.
Recent electrical groundings
Since production restarted, the output has remained low. Indeed, not only has Boeing been dealing with the aforementioned backlog, but, like the rest of the industry, it has also come to terms with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. More recently, several safety concerns have also hampered the program’s post-grounding recovery.
For example, the manufacturer made a safety recommendation to 16 MAX operators last month after finding an electrical problem that needed addressing. This forced a total of 106 MAX aircraft to be grounded while Boeing worked on a fix. Last week, the FAA approved Boeing’s solution to the electrical issue, effectively ungrounding the affected planes.
What do you make of the reports that Boeing will increase its 737 MAX production in 2022? Have you flown on a MAX since its recertification? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.