Boeing eyes fresh restart of 737MAX output

Photo: EPA

US plane maker Boeing announced plans to restore production of its 737MAX carriers as market demand for jets with medium range is picking up, Reuters reported. Boeing plans to increase its output capacity to as much as 42 jets per month by the end of the autumn of 2022. The company bets on a rapid growth in flight business that would offset both technological and Covid-19 related health concerns. Boeing plans a first step recovery with 31 jets per month by next March.

Last month it reaffirmed plans to raise 737MAX output from an unspecified "low" rate to 31 a month by early 2022. Production was halted in 2019 after Boeing's fastest-selling model was grounded in the wake of fatal crashes. It resumed last May at a fraction of its original pace while Boeing navigated regulatory approvals and a fragile supply chain. It is still awaiting the go-ahead from China after winning Western approvals late last year. Chief Executive Dave Calhoun has warned that the timing of remaining approvals will influence the shape of Boeing's final production ramp-up.

Higher production could inject much-needed cash into the supply chain and reduce Boeing's component costs. Boeing's efforts to restore production are also tied to the pace at which it offloads an inventory of parked airplanes that swelled during the nearly two years the MAX was grounded. The published target of 31 a month has already slipped from late 2021 to early 2022. In Europe, Airbus has ordered suppliers to get ready for higher output while warning them over quality glitches that can reflect overstretched supply chains.

Before the 2019 grounding, Boeing was producing 52 MAX a month on its way to a target of 57. Airbus was making close to 60 of its A320neo airplanes a month before last year's lockdowns. Airbus plans to raise output from 40 to 45 airplanes a month by end-2021.

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