When Will Boeing’s 737 MAX Construction Line Be Back Up To Speed?

In more bad news for Boeing, another software issue has been detected on its 737MAX jet just weeks before experts thought it could be recertified. Even if recertification happens within the coming weeks, the impact on production will no doubt continue. Once Boeing does restart production on its controversial jet, there are estimates that it will be four years behind its initial production schedule.

Boeing spirit Aerosystems 737MAX getty images
Spirit AeroSystems delivers the fuselage for Boeing’s 737MAX. Photo: Getty Images

A new deal

In the latest news regarding the Boeing 737MAX production schedule, Spirit AeroSystems signed an agreement this week to deliver 216 fuselages in 2020 for Boeing’s 737MAX.

This agreement replaces Spirit’s previous deal with Boeing to deliver 52 fuselages per month. Boeing is expected to pay Spirit $225 million in the first quarter of this year for the 216 fuselages. This payment includes pre-payment for deliveries over the coming two years.

Advertisement

This new deal, signed on February 6, replaces a deal signed last April. The numbers in the deal suggest that Spirit will not be required to provide 52 fuselages per month until 2022. This puts Boeing almost four years behind its plans to increase production.

Advertisement

Boeing initially had plans to up the number to 57 per month throughout 2019 but this is now not thought to be realistic until 2023 at the earliest. Spirit may be relieved by the delay in delivery as it initially had issues trying to meet the demand for 57 per month.

Boeing 737 MAX production getty images
Boeing was forced to shut production of its 737 MAX jet. Photo: Getty Images

The 737MAX fuselage is slightly different to the 737NG fuselages which are also made on Spirit’s existing production lines. The company had to practise hitting target numbers and transition across to making more of the modified 737MAX fuselages.

Advertisement

Production issues

Boeing will face several issues when it reopens its MAX production facilities, not just the production of its fuselages. Spirit said in January that it has had to cut almost 3,000 jobs due to the MAX groundings. It will have to rehire employees once it begins to up the production to 52 and then 57 per month.

It isn’t just Spirit AeroSystems production which will cause Boeing issues. Continued cancellations of flights to China due to coronavirus fears, means many manufacturers are finding their supply chains disrupted.  Any materials which pass through China are being delayed so even if Boeing is able to get its line up and running, they may find they’ve only got limited supplies to work with.

Restarting the production line

So far, Boeing has continued to insist that it will not lay off any of its production staff. Boeing has transferred staff into other positions within the company rather than lay them off. When the production line starts up again, it theoretically has the staff to go straight back to work.

Boeing spirit Aerosystems 737MAX getty images
Boeing has not yet laid off any staff despite suspending production of the MAX. Photo: Getty Images

There are conflicting reports as to when Boeing may start production again. Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun told reporters in January that he expects the airline to begin production again “months before that moment in June because we have to get that line started up again.” June refers to the suspected date when the aircraft may be recertified.

But with Spirit AeroSystems having already laid off staff and struggling to meet Boeing’s demands, getting the production line up and running again may be more difficult than Calhoun is willing to admit. Staff and material shortages at Boeing and its suppliers will continue to impact Boeing’s delivery schedule. It won’t be a surprise if the four-year delay becomes considerably longer.

What do you think Boeing could do to get its delivery schedule’s back on track? Is there a way they could restart production before certification as Calhoun suggested? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Advertisement

13
Leave a Reply

10 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Max

Emily – Boeing is an airframe manufacturer, an airline! You say “….Dave Calhoun told reporters in January that he expects the airline to begin…”. You could say “manufacturer” or “company”, but not “airline”.

Peter Wright

Convert the existing 737 Maxs to 737-800s. Abandon the new engines.

E.T.

Having had considerable experience in production systems, I believe it will take a long time before production could re-start on B737 Max. We need to take a pragmatic view on this. I believe it would be unrealistic to expect the B737 Max to fly this year (2020) or even next. Because Boeing out-sources part of the manufacture, some suppliers will by now have ceased manufacture of parts, some will have gone out of business. Re-start of some of these systems can take 12 months or more in some cases because re-certification of plant and equipment is a very long process.… Read more »

Kevin

It would be prudent for Boeing to wait to restart manufacturing until the recertification is official. But these days Boeing is anything but prudent. They are all about the cash and shareholder value. That should give any thinking man or woman pause about ever flying on one of Boeing’s Max jets. End of story.

TheSickManOfEurope

Who on earth would want to fly in the Boeing’s 737 MAX….. a.k.a The Flying Coffin?
Lucky thing the Chinese are not producing large passenger jets (yet)…..my guess is when they do the USA will use the same Huawei/Nord Stream strategies they are using now!
Boeing’s woes is just another indication of an Empire Decline…..in this case a very short lived one.

Luis

Spare us your bull***t !

Raghunathan S Ampalaya.

When a pure business man got the contract to run America like a casino only the profit and not the American standards is no more a priority.,how can you blame Boeing alone ?.

Raghunathan S Ampalaya.

When a pure business man got to run America like casino or a hotel it is profit only and no more the American standards and prides that matter.how can you blame Boeing alone ?.

Raghunathan S Ampalaya.

When a pure business man got to run America like casino or a hotel it is profit only and no more the American standards and prides that matter.how can you blame Boeing alone..

Philip

Emily The Boeing 737 NG, the previous model, does not have MCAS. You have to ask the question: why did Boeing introduce MCAS on the 737 MAX and not tell airlines and/or pilots about this? The answer is that they installed larger diameter engines, which did not fit under the wings, unless Boeing made the gear/undercarriage taller. Boeing management thought that was an expensive engineering solution and, therefore, Boeing decided to save a few pennies by moving the engines forward and upward which changed the way the aircraft flew. It tended to pitch the nose up, at high power settings… Read more »

Graham

You nailed it Philip. The 737 Max flies a lot different than the NG and should have had more testing during it’s certification

Luis

Very well put.

I wish the new management has the courage to tackle and fix the root problem and get this bird back in the sky.

Vik

It boils down to financial greed. Pushing timeframes to the almost impossible, pushing suppliers to deliver when they are obviously struggling to do so, pushing designers and engineers to their limit using an out of date airplane design and eventually the the limit is pushed to the point that corners are cut and ultimately safety is compromised. I hope production does not re start as there are still way too many issues still coming to light with this model. I fully expect Boeing to continue pushing everything and everybody involved in production to their absolute limits as before when they… Read more »