Jan. 10, 2023, © Leeham News: In three days, David Calhoun will “celebrate” his third anniversary as the chief executive officer of The Boeing Co.
I put “celebrate” in quotes because I’m not sure Calhoun really is in a celebrating mood. Boeing still has a big hole to climb out of and it’s going to be a few more years at least just to get back to 2019 production levels for the 737. Production levels for the 767/KC-46A are stable with a goal of increasing to 4/mo. Levels for the 777 remain at around two per month, pending certification of the 777X. Production of the 787 won’t get back to its peak of 14/mo, or even 12/mo. But Boeing hopes to achieve a production rate of 10/mo by mid-decade.
In the meantime, things are hardly running smoothly at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) or Boeing Defense, Space and Security (BDS).
BCA remains plagued by quality control issues. Inexperienced workers hired to replace those who retired, accepted early buyouts, and normal attrition during the MAX grounding and COVID pandemic have learning curves. Clearing the grounded MAX inventory is slower than hoped. Clearing the 787 inventory will also be a slow slog.
Relations with the Federal Aviation Administration may be better than under Calhoun’s predecessor, Dennis Muilenburg. But Boeing doesn’t have its own “ticketing” (certification) authority restored and another safety investigation is about to begin.
BDS has its own long-standing issues. The Starliner and SLS space programs have been problematic. Losses and delays continue on the KC-46A, Air Force One, T-7, and MQ-25 programs. Legacy programs from the McDonnell Douglas era (the 1990s and before) recorded losses last year.
Boeing Global Services seems to be the only bright spot. Even Calhoun’s announcement on Nov. 2 that BCA won’t introduce a new airplane until the middle of the next decade drew a lot of raspberries from a wide swath of the industry—including, of all things, the Wall Street Journal.