In a somewhat unusual move, Boeing has called back a number of retired workers in an attempt to fix their ongoing delays to 737 production. Last month, 50 or more unfinished 737’s were parked outside their Renton factory. The rehiring of previously left workers aims to fill shortages of skilled engineers and allow them to fix this ‘logjam’.
The hiring of the previously retired workers comes following an agreement being reached between Boeing and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers on August 15th. Around 600 new employees have been hired to Renton in recent weeks, although it is not known how many of these are previous retirees of the company.
Speaking on behalf of Boeing, Paul Bergman said that the unusual strategy of rehiring past employees was ‘to ensure timely deliveries to our customers’. He said:
“We are working closely with our suppliers Spirit and CFM as they track toward recovery, as well as our customers. Our team has been mitigating supplier delays, and our factory continues to build 52 airplanes per month.”
The word from CFM is that they are pulling out all the stops to fix delays before the end of the year. The late delivery of parts from this supplier has been blamed for many of the Boeing production delays.
The ongoing saga of the Boeing 737 delays
Back in August we reported on the emerging delays of Boeing’s 737 production, as a multitude of issues seemed to be working against the manufacturer. Delays in the supply chain have seen aircraft languishing without engines, backups in fuselage deliveries and even problems with the interiors. Last month, Boeing reportedly had in excess of 50 part finished 737’s standing outside their Renton facility.
Despite ramping up output in an attempt to counter the delays, issues in the supply chain have continued to scupper Boeing’s best laid plans. In July, the company output was at a record low, with just 39 jets delivered out of a target of 52. This was rapidly followed by the (completely coincidental) ‘early retirement’ of Scott Campbell, boss of the Boeing 737 production operation.
To be fair to Boeing, their production did bounce back in August, as Tuesday’s newly released tallies show. The Boeing 737 production hit 48 deliveries last month, leaving the plane maker confident that they would fix the logjam at Renton by the end of the year.
Our love of the 737
The 737 is the world’s most popular aircraft and the biggest selling model in the Boeing fleet. Despite ongoing concerns about production delays, Boeing still won the most orders at the Farnborough Air Show this year, including an order for 100 737MAX aircraft from Vietjet and 75 from Jet Airways.
Over the whole of 2018, Boeing has so far received 581 aircraft orders for 737 variants. This places it comfortably ahead of Airbus in terms of business, as they’ve posted just 219 net orders for the rival to the 737, their A320, from January to August this year.
So far, the Boeing 737 delays don’t appear to be hitting airlines too badly. American Airlines have commented that they’ve seen ‘slight delays’ on a small number of deliveries, while Southwest Airlines have had some ‘minor changes’ to delivery dates. Both companies claim that operations have not been disrupted as a result.