According to Boeing, a recent supplier problem has impacted the 737 MAX’s production and will have an influence on deliveries in the upcoming months.
The problem, which first came to light on April 13, 2023, was revealed when Spirit AeroSystems, a Tier 1 supplier for Boeing and Airbus, informed the manufacturer that “a non-standard manufacturing process was used on two fittings in the aft fuselage section of certain 737 airplanes,” according to a speech given by Boeing’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Calhoun to the company’s shareholders on April 18, 2023.
On April 12, 2023, Spirit AeroSystems, the 737 program’s fuselage supplier based in Wichita, Kansas, reportedly told the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) about the issue.
According to Calhoun, as soon as Boeing learned of the problem from the supplier, Boeing immediately notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The in-service fleet can continue to run safely, according to Calhoun, who noted that the emphasis was on making a choice based on safety.
“We are assessing the near-term delivery impact and working closely with our customers. Unaffected airplanes will continue to deliver. And for those impacted, keep in mind that the inspection and rework hours are being bounded, and this is an airplane-by-airplane evaluation,” Calhoun said.
While the problem won’t affect the anticipated increases in manufacturing rates predicted for 2025 or 2026, Calhoun claims that the anticipated delivery delays will eliminate “about 9,000 seats from our customers’ summer schedules”. Additionally, he expressed regret to the clients “for the impact on those fleets”.
Certain Boeing 737 MAX-7, MAX-8, MAX-8-200, and the P-8 Poseidon, a military aircraft based on the 737 NextGeneration (NG), were fitted using a non-standard fitting technique. There was no impact on the 737 MAX-9.
A typical two-class cabin arrangement on the 737 MAX-8 seats between 162 and 178 passengers, while the MAX-8-200, the aircraft’s high-density configuration, accommodates 210 passengers, according to the OEM’s 737 MAX product page.
Boeing constructed 57 737 MAX-8 aircraft between January 1, 2023, and April 19, 2023, according to statistics from ch-aviation.com, while it delivered 52 of the same model during that time.
The 879 737 MAX-8s that Boeing produced between January 1, 2019, and April 14, 2023, which were produced using the non-standard production method for four years, may be impacted by the problem.
Calhoun nevertheless declared that he was “actually quite proud of the progress our team has made on the 737 MAX over the last several years.”
The executive added that “not too long ago” Boeing had more than 400 737 MAX aircraft sitting in storage due to the grounding of the type, but now there “are currently over 1,000 737 MAX airplanes flying in the fleet”.
The fact that “45 of the 95 737 MAX airplanes in China are now in service” was mentioned in relation to China bringing back the type of aircraft.
He concluded: “With regards to future deliveries, we’ve recently seen encouraging progress with the Civil Aviation Administration of China releasing the 737 Aircraft Evaluation Report, which is an important step in that process. Ultimately, our customers will determine the timing of when they are ready to take delivery of their airplanes, we’ll be there to support them.”
In total, Boeing delivered 378 737 aircraft in 2022, and the OEM delivered 111 737 MAX aircraft in Q1 2023.