UPDATE: Spirit says 737 manufacturing errors will disrupt deliveries through July

By Bryan Corliss 

March 3, 2023 © Leeham News – The manufacturing errors its team made on Boeing 737 MAX fuselages will cost Spirit AeroSystems at least $31 million to fix, with work on the units still at the Wichita factory going on until the end of July, the company reported this morning.

But that’s just the start, Spirit executives warned.

“Additional costs are expected, including costs Boeing may assert to repair certain models of previously delivered units in their factory and warranty costs related to affected 737 units in service,” the company said in its quarterly earnings release.  

The time and cost to make those repairs will have to be determined on “a unit-by-unit analysis,” Spirit said, adding that it “cannot reasonably estimate the remaining potential costs at this time.”   

Repairs to the fuselages on hand in Wichita will cost $100,000 to $150,000 each, the company estimates. Spirit has revised its manufacturing process and implemented new quality controls, the company said.

Overall, Spirit reported an operating loss of $95 million for the quarter, which more than doubled its losses in the first quarter of 2022. The growing losses came even though Spirit increased revenues by 22% year-over-year, to $1.4 billion. 

Spirit said that since the close of the quarter on March 30, it has received $230 million in cash advances from customers, of which $180 million has come from Boeing. It will receive another $50 million in advances later this year. Spirit is to repay those advances in 2024 and 2025.

  • Some 750 737s to be inspected, may need rework
  • Spirit to increase 737 rates in August, October
  • Deliveries to Airbus to be down this year
  • ‘Fragile’ supply chain remains an issue  
  • ‘Primary object is to reward our IAM colleagues’

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UPDATED: Boeing says it still will deliver up to 450 737s this year

Boeing Co. photo

By Bryan Corliss

April 26, 2023, © Leeham News — Boeing says it will increase rates on the 737 line in Renton to 38 a month to maintain its plan to deliver between 400 and 450 737 MAX jets to airlines this year.

That was the first line of the company’s first-quarter earnings release, which showed Boeing lost $149 million on the quarter, on revenues of $17.9 billion.

Boeing had optimistically aimed for jumping MAX rates from the current 31 a month, as soon as June. However plans for the 737 line had been in question, after recent revelations that manufacturing problems and a software issue would cause delays in deliveries.

  • ‘Gnarly’ 737 defect to take weeks to fix
  • Boeing commits to MAX increases
  • Improving numbers at BCA
  • Supply chain issues continue, Boeing says

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Boeing avoids strike as St. Louis Machinists OK contract

By Bryan Corliss

Aug. 3, 2022, © Leeham News: Machinists Union members working for Boeing’s St. Louis-area defense plants today ratified a three-year contract with the company. 

The vote means that Boeing will avoid a strike that would have shut down production of new T-7 trainers for the U.S. Air Force and MQ-25 Stingray refueling drones for the U.S. Navy.

Members of International Association of Machinists District Lodge 837 on July 24 had rejected an earlier offer from Boeing with a 91% no vote, with 94% of members voting to go on strike Aug. 1. 

That prompted Boeing to go back to the table over the weekend. It came up with a new offer that added an $8,000 ratification bonus, with the option for workers to take that in cash or as a contribution to their 401(k) retirement funds. 

That, apparently, made all the difference.

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Update 8-3: Contract Approved (St. Louis Machinists vote Wednesday on latest Boeing contract tweaks)

Update, Aug. 3, 2022: The IAM 837 approved the revised Boeing offer for a three year contract. No strike tonight.

By Bryan Corliss

Aug. 2, 2022, © Leeham News: Machinists Union workers at Boeing’s St. Louis-area defense plants will vote on a revised three-year contract offer from the company Wednesday.

Workers on July 24 had rejected a previous offer from the company with a 91% no vote. In addition, 94% of workers voted to strike. The strike was scheduled to start at 12:01 a.m. Monday, but after a marathon weekend bargaining session, the union side agreed to take Boeing’s latest offer to its members in today’s vote.

Negotiators from International Association of Machinists District Lodge 837 had urged their members to reject the company’s previous proposal, saying it did “not equate to a fair and equitable offer.”

As of mid-day Tuesday, the IAM 837 negotiating committee hadn’t issued a public recommendation on the latest offer. However, our read is that it’s doubtful that Boeing has improved its package enough to satisfy Machinists, who are looking for significant improvements in pay and retirement benefits after giving up major concessions in their last contract.

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Update 2: (Boeing modifies offer, strike called off for now) After upbeat air show and 2Q financial report, Boeing faces strike Sunday

Update, 2:45PM (PDT) July 30: Overnight negotiating resulted in a modified offer from Boeing to IAM 837, resulting in postponing the strike set to begin at 12:01 AM CDT Aug. 1. A new vote has been set for Aug. 3.

By Bryan Corliss


UPDATE: 4 p.m. (Pacific), July 29: On Friday afternoon, a St. Louis television station reported that Boeing and Machinists Union District Lodge 837 were heading to mediation. The station quoted an IAM 837 spokesman who said a federal mediator would lead the talks. The station said Boeing has not confirmed this.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Business Journal reported that negotiators on both sides had met with a mediator but made no progress.

Neither side has issued a statement on potential mediation.

We will update if developments warrant.

July 30, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing’s Wednesday earnings call had some pretty big news in it: After years of red ink, Boeing now anticipates generating free cash flow.

But there’s a big potential blocker on the Defense side of the house, in the form of a looming strike with the Machinists Union workers in St. Louis.

Workers rejected a contract on July 24. Leaders of International Association of Machinists District Lodge  837 said 91% of those voting rejected Boeing’s “best and final” offer, and 94% of voters authorized a strike, which could begin at 12:01 AM Monday. The leadership did not release the vote totals.

Three plants in and near St. Louis would be affected by a walk out.

Boeing didn’t mention it in its earnings press release, and CEO Dave Calhoun didn’t mention it on the earnings call and downplayed the significance of the labor strife during a live interview with CNBC the same day.  

“They do have high expectations,” Calhoun said. “We feel we have made a very strong offer.”

The union workers, however, disagree, and that could very well mean another stumble for Boeing, as it moves to bring the key new programs – the T-7A trainer for the U.S. Air Force and the MQ-25 Stingray UAV for the U.S. Navy – into full production.

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Basking in Farnborough rebound, Boeing faces contract rejection at Defense unit

By Scott Hamilton

July 20, 2022, © Leeham News: While Boeing is basking in an upbeat Farnborough Air Show with sizable orders for the 737 MAX, it faces the prospect of losing a key contract vote on July 24 with the International Association of Machinists Local 837.

Local 837 represents Boeing workers in St. Louis (MO), where the Defense unit is headquartered. Union leadership recommended rejecting the contract, opening the door to a potential strike. Nearly 2,500 union members are eligible to vote on the contract offer from Boeing. The current contract expires at 12:01 AM St. Louis time on July 25.

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Update (2): Boeing rehires aircraft inspectors

By Bryan Corliss

May 18, 2021 © Leeham News — The Boeing Co. has quietly recalled at least some of as many as 900 quality control inspectors who were laid off in 2019 as part of a drive to adopt car-industry manufacturing processes in aerospace manufacturing.

The move comes after the union for the inspectors – Machinists District Lodge 751 – pushed the company to prove that getting rid of inspectors could be done without risking quality issues and would actually improve production times.

“Our union’s goal is to save Boeing from making decisions that could be detrimental to (its) future and ours,” union leaders said in its monthly AeroMechanic newsletter. “A second set of eyes is a critical component of building Boeing airplanes and necessary for the long-term success of the company.”

A union spokeswoman said she was unable to say precisely how many of the inspectors were initially laid off, and how many have been brought back since the recalls started. Boeing’s media relations team did not respond to a written list of questions on the topic.

Updated: Boeing provided a written statement that said, in part, that there has been “no reduction in quality staffing related to changes in our inspection approach,” despite reports in 2019 that a new approach to quality control would lead to far fewer human inspections, and inspectors.

Update 2, May 24: Boeing provided additional information today about the reported layoffs of verification inspectors, first reported by The Seattle Times in 2019.

Boeing acknowledged that a former Boeing executive told The Times then that up to 900 inspectors could be laid off that year. It was this 2019 report that formed the basis of LNA’s introductory paragraph.

However, in response to a specific question by LNA, today Boeing said there were no cuts in quality inspectors in 2019.

There were layoffs in 2020, following the eruption of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which occurred during the extended grounding of the 737 MAX. Boeing declined to specify the number.

“We don’t provide details about employment in specific teams,” a spokesman wrote in an email to LNA. “As we’ve said throughout the past year, due to the pandemic’s impact on commercial aviation, we reduced production rates for some of our commercial programs, and our factory employment is directly related to production work statement.”

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2024 will be key year for Boeing in Washington

This is the second in a series of articles examining how labor, Boeing and Washington state could move forward following the COVID pandemic. The first article is here.

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By Bryan Corliss



Nov. 30, 2020, © Leeham News — You might want to set yourself an Outlook calendar reminder for January 2024.

It’s going to be a pivotal year for Boeing, its home state and its workforce. By then, the company’s recovery from the current Covid-caused crisis should be underway, with the order book refilling.

The countdown should be on for the long-delayed roll-out of the reconceived NMA, at long last giving Boeing a real counter to the Airbus A321. And — barring a surge in 737 MAX orders after its return to service — Boeing could be close to making some tough decisions about the future of the 737 program, thinking hard about whether after 60 years it’s finally time to design and build a clean-sheet replacement.

Also by then, the 787 program will have fully consolidated into Charleston, and the last 747 will have departed the Paine Field flight line, leaving The World’s Largest Building (By Volume) half-empty.

Then, in January 2024, Boeing’s contract with its touch-labor union – IAM District 751 – will expire, after a 10-year extension that was part of the price Machinists paid to ensure the 777X would be assembled in Everett. For the first time since the summer of 2008, the two sides will sit down at a bargaining table with the union having the ability to call for a strike.

What happens between now and January 2024 will pretty much decide the future of Boeing in Washington state. If the players are clear-eyed and rational, we could see a return to the days when high-skilled workers built high-quality planes that created handsome profits for Boeing shareholders and family-wage jobs for Boeing workers.

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Pontifications: Why I’d fly the MAX; lessons learned and still to come

Nov. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: I’m okay with flying on board the Boeing 737 MAX.

Yes, it’s gone through the wringer in the 20 months since it was grounded.

Yes, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration screwed up royally.

And yes, there’s solid reason to distrust the company and the agency, wondering if they got it right this time.

Which is why for me the tipping point is the involvement of Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA are the reasons to trust getting back on the MAX.

LNA addresses the safety in our new podcast feature, 10 Minutes About. The inaugural podcast, 10 Minutes About the Boeing 737 MAX recertification may be heard here.

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Boeing, unions need reset: analysis

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By the Leeham News Team



Nov. 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing is at a defining moment, says John Holden, the president of IAM 751. This is the labor union that assembles Boeing’s airplanes in Washington State.

The Seattle Times wrote that “Boeing must realign for better days“.

Neither said anything that hasn’t been said before, some of them repeatedly.

There is a new twist to it this time.  Boeing is seriously bleeding money.  It is making changes for survival and paying a horrible price as it loses talent that takes years to develop.  There are many losers here:  Boeing, Washington State, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, Everett, Renton and all the communities in the Washington Aerospace heartland.  There are no winners.

But for all the points identified, few offer solutions. What should a realignment include?  What could it look like?

Over a series of articles, LNA will examine some possible solutions.

The first is Labor, starting with the IAM 751.

  • Long, tortured relationship.
  • Strong union state.
  • “Expensive labor.”
  • Is there a “value” premium?

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