Boeing 737 Rate May Not Stabilize At 38 Anytime Soon, Data Suggests

Boeing Renton 737

737 MAX pictured at Boeing's facility in Renton, Washington.

Credit: Guy Norris/Aviation Week

Boeing is steadily ramping up 737 program production, but recent history suggests it could be well into 2024 before the company stabilizes at pushing out 38 new aircraft every month.

The company confirmed during its July 26 earnings call that it is “transitioning” to 38 per month from the most recent stable rate of 31. Boeing does not release details on monthly rollouts and has been open about up-and-down figures as it reaches a new rate and then works to stay there.

“As we move to the higher rate, we’ll continue to prioritize stability, and it will take some time to consistently deliver at 38 per month off the line,” CFO Brian West said.

Boeing’s last official rate increase, to 31, came last year. The company said in early July 2022 that it had reached Rate 31 in June, adding that supply chain uncertainty meant it would take time to stabilize at 31 per month.

Figures compiled by consultancy Aero Analysis Partners (AAP), which tracks monthly rollouts by program, show Boeing rolled out at least 31 737s in March and June 2022. But the company did not start consistently pushing out at least 31 per month until December 2022.

This year’s climb to 38 could be on a similar path. AAP figures show Boeing rolled out 40 737s in June, but the July figure was about half of that as of the earnings call, according to an AAP analysis seen by Aviation Week.

Looking ahead, Boeing is less concerned about the timing of monthly milestones than the top-end target. The company’s current plan sees a monthly rate of 50 aircraft in 2025 or 2026. Company executives insist that how it gets there is not materially important.

The 38 rate “has to come and has to come in a stable form so that we’re not up and down every month,” Calhoun said on the earnings call. “But maybe more important than that, we now have such good visibility into the supply chain. We know whether they’re ready for the next [rates] for 40, 42, 44, etcetera.”

While supply-chain uncertainty will likely linger into 2024, several positive developments could help Boeing reach its higher rates sooner. It is adding production-line capacity in the form of two new lines—one that recently restarted at its long-time Renton narrowbody facility, and a new line in Everett, better known for widebody production.

How quickly those lines come up to speed and can be counted on to produce at a regular, accretive rate will help determine how fast 737 program production hits, or perhaps surpasses, 50 aircraft per month.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.