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10 Aug 2018 - 737 production problems affecting deliveries

737 deliveries are starting to be affected by supply chain problems to the production line. There are several problems:

1. Late or incomplete 737 fuselages from Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita. Spirit AeroSystems CEO Tom Gentile said on the company’s quarterly earnings teleconference that although 737 fuselage deliveries have picked up, “we’re still not getting consistently everyday fuselages out.” He said this will be fixed in the second half of the year, and said he’s very confident Spirit will fully meet its delivery requirements by year end.

2. Late LEAP-1B engines from CFM. There are over 40 unfinished 737s parked up at Renton which is creating problems for storage. Boeing has been taking the unusual step of fitting engines to otherwise finished aircraft to ferry them away to to Boeing Field, then removing the engines and transporting them back to Renton to fit to another aircraft to ferry away!

3. A shortage of skilled mechanics. This was caused by Boeing offering "voluntary buyouts" ie early retirement for its senior workers last year. Boeing has been moving workers from other sites and programs to Renton to help clear the backlog.

4. There are unconfirmed reports (reported by the Seattle Times) from workers that other parts are arriving late from electronics modules to flight deck interior pieces, are SOS – Stores Out of Stock. But Boeing say that this is normal and not responsible for the build-up of unfinished aircraft.

This all comes on the back of an increase in the production rate to 52 from 47 aircraft per month in June but the average number of deliveries this year has not exceeded 45. Boeing was hoping to increase production to 57 per month in 2019 but this now seems unlikely.

It is possibly related that on 15 Aug 2018, Scott Campbell, Vice President and General Manager, 737 Program and Renton Site Leader announced that he would be taking early retirement the end of 2018.

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*** Updated 23 Nov 2020 ***

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