Production boosts at Boeing: more to come for 737

Boeing’s announcement today that it will boost production of the 777 from the previously announced 7/mo to 8.3/mo (100 a year) is good news for Boeing, its customers, the supply chain and (to be parochial about it) Washington State, where the airplanes are made.

But this isn’t all.

As we have previously written, Boeing is already thinking of boosting 737 production beyond the 38/mo previously announced, to as much as 42: 41 commercial 737s and one 737-based P-8A Poseidon, all assembled in Renton (WA). (The fuselage is built by Spirit Aerosystems in Wichita (KS), which at one time was Boeing’s facility.)

We learned that even 42/mo may not be the end of it. Boeing foresees the 737 production rate to as many as 50/mo.

And this isn’t all. Given the delays, demand and the need for more sales slots for the 787 program, Boeing can take the 787 rate to 17/mo. As BCA CEO Jim Albaugh told us at the Farnborough Air Show, Everett’s Line 1 has the capacity to do seven per month; Charleston’s Line 2 will have the capacity to go to 7/mo; and Everett’s so-called surge line has the capacity for 3/mo. Albaugh cautioned that he needs to be confident Boeing can produce the previously announced 10/mo before taking production higher.

We further speculate that if Boeing does not win the KC-X tanker contract, Boeing could expand the surge line from the forward half of the bay it’s assigned to encompass the entire fore-and-aft bay. The aft bay is assigned to the 767 line on which the tanker is based. With a commercial backlog of only 51 767s, without the tanker this production will end in some four years, which could make way for 787 production beyond the technically feasible 17/mo.

All rate increases, of course, depend on the supply chain.

Despite the problems bedeviling Boeing over the 787 and 747-8, the saying is that it is always darkest before the the dawn (or something like this). Boeing could–and should–be on a roll by 2015. There are some dark days still ahead, but we see dawn coming.

Here is the story on 737 rates we did today for Commercial Aviation Online/FlightGlobal on the 737.

Here is a story we did today on the Boeing 787-10 being back on the table as an answer to the Airbus A330-330. This was also for CAO/FlightGlobal.

Here is a piece we did for AirInsight on the impact of the A320neo decision on Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier.

16 Comments on “Production boosts at Boeing: more to come for 737

  1. The B-787 series may become the death nail for the A-330 series, just as the B-777 series killed the A-340.

    Airbus really has no counter offer to the B-787-8, and if the B-787-10 is built, it will compete directly with the A-350-1000. The A-350-1000 really has no engine, yet, and Airbus is struggling to design it.

    • Currently there is no 787 derivative around that promises to kill anything in the near future except maybe its parent Boeing 😉

    • Thanks, Captain Obvious, for stating that newer designs outperform older designs. Really, thanks for the info!
      And regarding your last claim, would you care elaborating on a bit more? You may quote reliable sources. I’ll otherwise take it as a basic anti-Airbus bashing – certainly not surprising coming from you.

  2. And you know what? The Airbus A360 will kill off the 787 entirely. It will be vastly superior to the 787-10.

    But oh, wait! The A360 does not exist! Whatever! Who cares? Fictional airplanes have never stopped us from ditching older designs, have they? It certainly never stopped you.

    (And yes, the 787-10 is a fictional airplane. It only exists in the ppt world. Might never get even to the CAD world, let alone rag and glue.)

  3. I believe Boeing (and its PR department) should spend more time sorting out the new planning as promised for the 787 EIS rather than launching in a couple of days 3 announcements to make the situation look better than it is.

    Fair enough the 737 sells like hot cakes this year, but they plan a rate increase for the 777 above the A330 while it has a lower backlog (250 v. 372), strange times and decision indeed.

    • If in trouble or in doublt run in circles, flap your arms, scream about 😉

      There has been quite a bit of discussion if the 737 can be accelerated this summer. There were doubts, even expressed by Boeing management at the time.

      So watching the production hike ( as targeted versus reality ) should give some
      idea on what is possible.
      Can this then be extended to the 777 line or is the setup too different?

      On 787 subtypes ( -9 ?-10?):
      possible EIS for those is even more undefined than the basic -8 version and the chance of then getting any samples in reasonable number is a complete unknown.
      What rate of rampup will Boeing be able to achieve? The first FAL is already hard limited to less than 7/month down from the planned for 10++/month.
      Maybe the delays will allow the second FAL to be ready for production earlier in relation to EIS than envisioned up to now. But this does not chance the fact that the backlog as it stands today can not be satisfied before ~2020. Introducing a -10 variant would imho only increase entanglement at Boeing without diverting A330 customers from Airbus.
      Clouds will get darker if Airbus is able to setup a second A330/340 FAL (US, China?) and output another stream of widebodies.

    • A330 will reach rate 10 in 2013. So the line will be running at around 110 annually.
      I do agree with you that Boeing seems to be pushing out these feel good statements before the big bang…

  4. “Here is a story we did today on the Boeing 787-10 being back on the table as an answer to the Airbus A330-330. This was also for CAO/FlightGlobal.”

    The A333 will be in real trouble, come 2020, when this plane will be available.

  5. The relatively modest increase in 777 production makes sense I think. The 777-300ER is a highly desirable plane, which sells well in its own right and can also be used as a substitute for customers onside that are starting to doubt the 787.

    An increase in 737 production to 50 would be slash and burn: sell them cheap, sell them fast. If lessors are fed up with Airbus over the A320 (see Leeham’s previous columns on this), it will be nothing compared with their fury at Boeing!

    “Boeing can take the 787 rate to 17/mo”. Let’s get to 1/yr first. Then we can start talking …

  6. The cynic in me thinks that upcoming news for the 787 must be really bad, if Boeing decides to release so much feel good news beforehand. It feels like another attempt to message their stock prices, lull investors with some sweet prospects then dump the bad new before christmas/ during holidays. Gotta admit they are good at that ^^

  7. FF :“Boeing can take the 787 rate to 17/mo”. Let’s get to 1/yr first. Then we can start talking …

    Yes. When I read that quote I was wondering if they replaced water with Kool-Aid at Boeing HQ?

  8. I can’t help getting the feeling that Boeing is throwing a Hail Mary pass with these announcements. As as been pointed out, the current backlog of the A330 is some 50 percent greater than that of the 777. The large backlog of A330s are partially caused by the unavailability of the 787 and Airbus is still going to produce “no more” than 100 per annum.

    If Boeing is going to produce 100 triple sevens from 2013 and onwards it may indicate that they’re counting on the A350 being late by at least a couple of years, and/or they’re planning an all out fire sale to 787 customers such as Qantas, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines etc, to partly or fully “replace” the 787s on order (and, btw, at the same time freeing up slots for other customers). Since the 777-300ER is truly the only viable mid term 777 offering, the question is if 787 customers will have a real demand for an aircraft that is much bigger, and significantly more expensive to operate on routes that were supposed to be flown by the 787.

    Also, if the 787 situation is deteriorating to a point where first delivery is delayed by another 18 months or so, then the company must be looking at their cash situation in the mid term. Thus Boeing’s management might feel that a fire sale of 737s and 777s (77Ws) might be a viable way forward (i.e. Hail Mary Pass). So yeah, count me as sceptical to this plan, and the idea that they can sell that many extra 77Ws over the next half decade or so.

  9. BCA engineers (Everett) to BA (Chicago): 😉

    You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all come down and did tricks for you
    You never understood that it ain’t no good
    You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you


  10. Didn’t things go rather bad for Boeing the last time they tried to do a major ramp up? I beleive it was 1997 when it all went pear shaped.

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