With the rhubarb that emerged from the Boeing 2Q earnings call over where the 737RE production will be, and the contradictory messages to come from Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) in Seattle and Boeing Corporate in Chicago, we thought it might be useful (and certainly interesting) to return to the Boeing pre-Paris Air Show press briefing by Beverly Wyse, the Vice President and General Manager, 737 Program.
During the briefing, the question of potential 737 production rates came up. Boeing has announced a rate of 42/mo from 2014 and even then there was discussion of taking rates to 50/mo. Since the Air Show, BCA CEO Jim Albaugh said the company is studying a rate of 60/mo. It was within this context that the question over production was asked.
Wyse’s comments at the press briefing are noteworthy on a couple of points.
Here is the transcript from the recording of that presentation:
Question: How much capacity is there in Renton to build airplanes. What kind of rates could you achieve?
Wyse: It’s an interesting question. Each one of our final assembly lines (FAL) can produce 21 [a month]. The FAL is not a significant investment. If we were to bring another FAL over on the P-8 line, we could imagine we could address that demand fairly significantly. We have demonstrated we could go to 63 a month. [Emphasis is Wyse’s.]
You absolutely could [put another line in Renton]. The question is, would you? Or would you look at putting it somewhere else?
You could do mixed commercial and P8 on Line 3.
We have no plans right now to move our FAL off this production site. Maybe if when we originally started this program we had a vision of what production levels we would be at, we might have made a different decision, would you put all of this production on this site, but we have been so successful with this employee base. You never say never, but it’s not something seeing or studying now.
At the Paris Air Show, we interviewed Pat Shanahan, who heads all airplane programs for Boeing, and he, too, said there is room at Renton for expansion.
Boeing CEO Jim McNerney told analysts on the call said “major investments” are required to add another line at Renton, but did not define this (nor did Wyse when she said no “significant” investments are required).
Thus, the situation remains as clear as mud.