Boeing Plays Catch-up on 737

 - September 11, 2018, 12:09 PM
Boeing builds 737s at a rate of 52 per month at its Renton plant, but deliveries lagged in the third quarter due to supply chain bottlenecks. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing has re-hired retired employees and temporarily assigned another 600 to its Renton, Washington 737 assembly plant from various sites around the Puget Sound region to help speed delivery of the narrowbodies as the company works to recover from supply chain bottlenecks. Some 50 incomplete 737s sit outside the plant in Renton and at Boeing Field in Seattle awaiting engines and fuselage parts, while production inside the plant continues at the normal rate of 52 airplanes per month. The company has attributed the delivery delays to slow shipments of CFM engines and Spirit Aerosystems fuselage sections. Both companies have pledged to catch up on their delivery commitments in time to allow Boeing to meet its year-end delivery goal set last year.

“We are working closely with our suppliers Spirit and CFM as they track toward recovery, as well as our customers,” said a Boeing spokesman. “Our team has been mitigating supplier delays, and our factory continues to build 52 airplanes per month. We have dedicated additional resources to the Renton site to ensure timely deliveries to our customers.

“Our workforce strategy allows us to redeploy employees to the 737 program without interrupting our other programs,” he concluded. The company now has deployed a total of 10,000 employees across three shifts at the Renton site.

International Association of Machinists official Connie Kelleher told AIN that Boeing reached an agreement with the union to rehire retired workers on a temporary basis on August 15. Under the terms of the deal, Boeing can rehire retirees only while it continues to hire direct employees. She added that Boeing has not told the union how many retirees it plans to bring back.

While Boeing said it had experienced some supply-chain-related interruptions involving the 737 in the second quarter, it noted that it expects most of the disruption to occur in the third quarter. The company’s August orders and deliveries report, released Tuesday, shows that it shipped forty-eight 737s during the month, suggesting a recovery from the 29 it delivered in August.