Reports suggest that Boeing is planning to increase 737 MAX production quite substantially, starting from the fall of 2022.
This week saw Boeing get FAA approval for an electrical fix, regarding the latest issues of its single-aisle jet. The aviation authority issued the relevant AD, which allowed the manufacturer to resume aircraft deliveries. They had stopped early on in April. While the issue did not stop Boeing’s production of the MAX, it certainly didn’t lead to an increase, either.
With the summer season looming, Boeing is sprinting to deliver jets to its customer airlines. Boeing has a substantial backlog of 737 MAX aircraft, that they need to get rid of, before considering a production increase. Until recently, their production targets that we knew of, were for around 31 aircraft per month, in early 2022. Some regarded even this number as optimistic, with current monthly production at single digits.
New reports now claim that Boeing wants to increase 737 MAX production to as many as 42 jets, by the fall of 2022. This is a substantial ramp-up from any previously-known numbers. Of course even these numbers are below what Airbus are looking to achieve, with their A320neo family production.
For reference, Airbus reduced their monthly A320neo family output target to 40, at the start of the pandemic. They have since increased this target to 45-47 aircraft per month by the end of 2021. More recently, we saw that they want to be producing around 53 A320neos by the end of 2022. So, Boeing’s MAX production will still be 11 planes shy of Airbus’ A320 numbers by then. That’s if they both successfully meet these goals, of course.
Boeing MAX Production Increase Hurdles
But at this time, even making the comparison is somewhat misleading. With multiple lines around the world churning out A320neos, Airbus has the production advantage by default. This may be something that Boeing will want to change for its next aircraft, as we saw recently. And perhaps there is a link between these future plans and Boeing’s 737 MAX production increase.
One worry for Boeing, with regard to any new aircraft, is that it could temporarily hurt sales of its current products. This is compounded by having a number of undelivered jets waiting for customers. Boeing would need to sort out these deliveries and ‘normalize’ their 737 MAX production and supply chain, before moving on.
We have seen how Airbus’ worries about the financial state of its suppliers, caused it to target higher production outputs. With Boeing’s own challenges even before the pandemic, this is is at least as relevant to them, too. Boeing reportedly has an interim target, to increase MAX production to 26 planes per month by the end of 2021.
The same sources state that Boeing’s orders to its suppliers support this interim target, at the very least. But we still need to see how quickly the single-aisle jet will get ungrounded in the rest of the world. This is something that Boeing needs to see happen, for a production increase of the MAX to work.
Boeing was making 52 737 MAX aircraft per month, before the 2019 grounding.