New 737 MAX Production Issue May Cause Boeing to Miss Delivery Forecast

Boeing 737 production line.

RENTON, Wa. – The Boeing 737 MAX program faces a new production issue as just as it was planning to move to a higher monthly production rate.  A supplier to Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures the aircraft’s fuselage, drilled holes on the aft pressure bulkhead that did not meet Boeing’s specifications.

Boeing said it discovered the issue during an assembly line inspection and that, while the issue does not affect the aircraft’s safety during flight, the drilled holes will require rework to correct. Spirit later announced that it uses multiple suppliers for the aft bulkhead and only a portion of the fuselages it supplied to the 737 MAX program are affected by the flaw.

Correcting the deficiencies will delay near-term deliveries of affected aircraft on the production line, and Boeing will assess whether any in-service MAXs are affected by the issue. Boeing has not yet said whether this new production flaw will lead it to miss its delivery target for this year, but it will continue to deliver aircraft that are not affected by the problem.

The full story is covered by Reuters here.

We currently forecast production of airframes for the 737 program, not deliveries.  Boeing is delivering both new-build airframes along with aircraft that it previously built and stored while the aircraft was grounded.  Boeing planned to increase 737 production to 38 aircraft per month in the second half of the year, but our forecast already assumed that the ramp up would be gradual.  I’m not sure that our forecast will need to change.  Fuselages containing the flawed bulkheads will need rework, but it isn’t clear yet how many airframes on the production lines at both Boeing and Spirit are affected.  I will update the forecast as more information becomes available.

About Doug Royce

A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Douglas Royce is currently co-editor of four of Forecast International's Market Intelligence Services: Civil Aircraft Forecast, Military Aircraft Forecast, Rotorcraft Forecast, and Aviation Gas Turbine Forecast. As such, he plays a key role in many important projects that involve market sizing and forecasting for various segments of the world aerospace industry, as well as demand for related systems.

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