It Will Take Boeing 1.5 Years To Deliver Its Stored 737 MAXs

Boeing expects that it will take some 1.5 years for it to complete deliveries of its stored 737 MAX aircraft. In an earnings call this week, the airframer said that it was committed to the 737 MAX program and was intent on clearing backlogs. Yet despite the urgency, Boeing has said that the process would still be a slow one.

Boeing 737 MAX 8
Boeing is expecting that it will have delivered all its 737 MAX backlog within 1.5 years time. Photo: Boeing

“We don’t want to store more airplanes”

After a turbulent couple of years, Boeing is looking at the possibility of reinstating its Boeing 737 MAX production by the middle of this year. However, with the switch to its 737 MAX production line turned on once more, Boeing has the additional pressure of delivering any stored MAX aircraft. And it has quite a few of them.

Boeing has around 400 737 MAX aircraft in storage awaiting delivery. Despite dissipating trust in the aircraft, many airlines have remained faithful to their orders which is great news for Boeing and the effort it has put into its product.

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However, once MAX production begins again deliveries will be slow. Boeing estimates that it could take up to 18 months to complete deliveries as it fits the backlog around its normal operation.

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Boeing 737 manufacturing plant in Renton
Deliveries of stored MAX aircraft will fit around the existing Boeing schedule. Photo: Getty Images

In a transcript of the Boeing Q4 Earnings Call on 29th January, the CFO and Executive Vice President of Enterprise Performance & Strategy at Boeing said the key was to shift the backlog and move slowly with the MAX program. Greg Smith said:

“Don’t think of that as just turning the line back on…obviously we don’t want to build more airplanes and store them.”

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He continued:

“We’ve assumed that the regulatory approval for the 737 MAX will enable deliveries to begin in mid-2020…We’ve assumed that we will resume 737 MAX aircraft production at low rates in 2020 as timing and conditions of return to service are better understood. And then we expect to gradually increase previously planned production rates over the next few years. We’re also assuming that the 737 MAX airplanes produced and stored during the grounding will be delivered over several quarters with the majority of them delivered during the first year after resumption of deliveries.”

Why so slow?

According to LNA, Boeing will be working to an average of 22 deliveries per month and that’s no easy feat since Boeing delivered just 79 aircraft in the 4th quarter of 2019. This new timeline will require the airframer to deliver at least 66 stored 737 MAX aircraft alone without accounting for aircraft from other programs.

There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Boeing’s shoulders in the coming years. So, why is its delivery schedule moving so slowly?

It seems as though Boeing is erring on the side of caution. It’s committed to the 737 MAX and a focal point for the reinstatement is strengthening the program. The ungrounding of the MAX is not just about fulfilling backlogs. It’s about retraining crews and rebuilding trust. Moving slowly allows Boeing to keep a close eye on any changes that could negatively impact 737 MAX performance.

Further delays

MAX 8
The delays to the MAX deliveries are stunting growth for some airlines. Photo: Getty Images

That said, whilst Boeing’s intentions are well-meaning, the delay to deliveries presents further setbacks for customers awaiting the new aircraft.

Boeing had previously said that the 737 MAX would resume at the start of 2020. However, it recently shifted the timeline bringing additional disruption to some airlines’ growth and development. The gradual delivery of the MAX will certainly test the patience of some and frustrate others.

However, the FAA expects the MAX to return to our skies even sooner. It could be that Boeing is being overcautious to maintain expectations.

Do you think going slow is the best approach for Boeing? Have your say in the comments!

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Ibrahim

Cautious, the new CEO spreading his spirit!

JFP

Boeing needs to put an immediate “PCGSC” line item charge into all of its current and future U.S. Government contracts. Why? “PC Grounding Surcharge”. The 737 MAX, like too many things in the U.S. was sacrificed on the altar of Political Correctness by the U.S. Government. Boeing’s continued bidding on U.S. Government contracts is nothing less than corporate masochism at its worst. Boeing should rather openly tell the Government to buy its aircraft elsewhere. And, letting it be a warning to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman (and others) of the risks they’re taking by being so heavily dependent on defense… Read more »

Frank

So Boeing fires Muilenberg, gives him $80 million, replaces him with a board member and now is a model of caution and safety. Pretty much all of the same actors are still in all the same positions they occupied previously. Point I am making – is it possible that in a company the size of Boeing, the previous policy of denial, withholding information, cutting corners and bottom line focus, etc…was down to only a single guy? Calhoun comes in (and I watched his interview on CNBC) and he comes across as sincere (for what it’s worth) and seems to be… Read more »

High Mile Club

He was part of the problem. Elsewhere we need to cross examine managers in the factory for willfully cutting corners. Also, that Charleston plant needs half the managment removed and replaced by actual mechanics because they hired too many people right off the street who don’t know a damn thing about aircraft manufacturing practices.

Norma cluck

Boeing is delusional….I WILL never go on a max. If they rename, boeing is out of my life….forever.

mike Mike Welch

Design a plane that fits with the larger engines and this would not happen. It seems the company is being run by your accounting people and not listening to the engineers. Alot of what you do is to save money..i.e. Moving manufacturing to the southeast and having planes built by nonunion workers.

Mike Welch

Design a plane that fits with the larger engines and this would not happen. It seems the company is being run by your accounting people and not listening to the engineers. Alot of what you do is to save money..i.e. Moving manufacturing to the southeast and having planes built by nonunion workers.

Gerry S

Just checking feedback. Same stuff, different day. Same folks too.

Ian Robertson

Well I’m new to this! First post!
Firstly as an experienced engineer I find Boeing’s position delusional.
How can they expect to compete with a thoroughly new design by just bolting some bigger engines onto a design that dates back to the middle of last century? And think they can cover the handling flaws up with some (not so clever) firmware?
How did the US regulators ever let these clowns self-certify?
Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Airlines that are currently flying mostly 737s are seeing a downturn in business as more people won’t fly in them. This is going to take a LOT of turning around.

Chris Parker

The most interesting comment by the new CEO was the claim that the culture was not responsible for the 737 MAX problems. Had he admitted that he would have had to accepted responsibility for helping to create it.
He is more savvy than previous number cruncher, which is not difficult. However whether he is trustworthy is another matter.

Are Boeing playing to the gallery , making the right noises and when the spot light is off back to business as usual. The behaviours which caused the problems return. Culture change takes a long time and denial is not a good sign