Boeing Struggles With 737 Deliveries

The Boeing 737 is its maker’s most popular model. With incredible range and flexibility, the model offers airlines the capacity to fly passenger locally, transatlantic and trans-continental. So it’s with some concern that reports of delayed 737 deliveries are surfacing. Boeing delayed deliveries could have a major impact on airline offerings.

Who’s already taken 737 deliveries?

From Icelandair in the north to Malindo in the south-east, the 737 line is in demand. The low cost carriers Norwegian and Lion are customers as are United and American. Since its first inception some 50 years ago, the model has generated over 14,000 orders. It’s essentially the model that keeps us up in the air but also one with its wings firmly placed in the future. Previously, on average the maker rolled out between 42 and 47 planes a month to waiting customers. But lately, there have been issues.

What’s behind Boeing delayed deliveries?

Boeing has been struggling with a range of issues, all of which have impacted efficiency in Renton. A look around the factory today would show around 40 machines waiting for various different parts. Fuselage pieces supplied by third party subcontractors have not arrived. Engines and interiors are also noticeably absent.

A shortage of skilled fitters

While suppliers have been struggling to keep up their production numbers, there are other issues and underlying causes besides. Future planning to ensure a continued, skilled workforce has fallen short. Recently retired workers have not been replaced in time and Boeing has had to bring in hands from other divisions. Workers from the KC-46 program have been seconded while these issues are addressed.

But both the issue with skilled fitters and the backorder on supplier parts has been exasperated by one factor. Earlier this year Boeing decided to ramp up production to get their large orders out the door. Forty seven scheduled 737 deliveries per month jumped to 52 and you don’t need a degree in logistics to realize this contributed to the problem.

Future Boeing 737 deliveries

However, Boeing is confident these setbacks will only equal a few weeks’ delay in deliveries. In a recent statement, at the Farnborough International Air Show, a CFM International spokesperson claimed no customers would be ‘disappointed’. But whether a few weeks means three or 30, we’ll have to wait and see.

While delays are always possible and to some extend planned for, severe postponements are troublesome. But perhaps, these delay have happened at the best time possible.

For a start, Airbus is still recovering from a similar, earlier issue. But also, rising fuel prices have added extra costs to the monthly bottom line of most airlines. This factor could make pushing back delivery more acceptable as airlines become reluctant to face the costs of new aircraft roll outs.

But for most, the Boeing delayed deliveries won’t create big issues. Once the parts start flowing in again, completion should follow relatively quickly. And most airlines have a flexible delivery contract. Boeing shouldn’t expect to be held responsible for any losses.

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