Courtesy: Reuters (WASHINGTON)
Boeing plans to increase production of its best-selling 737 narrow-body jet to a record of at least 57 aircraft per month by July 2025 to accommodate rising orders and the company’s recovery from the 737 MAX crisis, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The target would help the plane maker meet its goal set several years ago, which was scuttled in 2019 when the MAX was banned from flying worldwide after two fatal plane crashes.
Both Boeing and its European rival Airbus have set ambitious targets as air traffic and aircraft sales recover, with Airbus producing the in-demand single-aisle aircraft even faster than the US Plane maker.
Boeing laid out the plan in the latest version of its supplier framework, which was confirmed by the Plane Maker in mid-September, the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the document is not public.
Boeing refused to comment in this matter.
The schedule calls for 737 productions to reach 42 jets a month by December 2023, confirming statements made by Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Stan Deal to Bloomberg TV in June.
Under that plan, monthly 737 production – including the 737 MAX as well as earlier models used for military aircraft – is expected to rise to 47.2 jets in June 2024 and 52.5 jets in December 2024 before reaching a steady rate of 57.7 aircraft per month in July 2025.
An earlier version of the plan, reported by Reuters in April, envisaged production of 52 jets per month a month later, in January 2025.
Before the 737 MAX shutdown in 2019, Boeing was producing 52 737s per month on track to reach its target of 57 aircraft.
Boeing’s official 737 production target is 50 aircraft per month for the 2025-2026 period, which the company unveiled at an investor day last November.
However, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun hinted that an increase in the production rate to 60 jets per month could be considered as the company continues to receive more orders, such as a contract with Air India for nearly 200 MAX aircraft booked this year.
“I would like to get to 60 deliveries and the market is there for that. There’s no doubt about that,” Calhoun said in a conference call in July.
The Boeing CEO added that the second half of 2024 would be a key moment for the company to prove it could keep its supply chain stable and maintain its ramp-up plan.
“If we get through this well and do well, then we will be talking to all of you about 60 deliveries,” Calhoun said at the time. “But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.
It is not uncommon for suppliers’ schedules to change due to numerous factors, but it is an important signal to the supply chain that will allow smaller companies to make necessary investments, the sources said.
Airbus in July confirmed a much-publicized production target for its best-selling A320neo family jets of 75 aircraft per month in 2026, saying the company was making “good progress“.