MAX Inventory Clear Out Could Take Years, Consultant Says

Boeing 737 MAX 8
Credit: Boeing

With the aerospace manufacturing sector expecting Boeing to restart 737 MAX production as early as next month or April, one widely followed industry consultant said it will take up to two years to clear out the stored inventory of narrowbody aircraft and fuselages.

Kevin Michaels, MD of AeroDynamic Advisory told the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance this month that it will take 18-24 months to push out the roughly 400 undelivered MAXs stockpiled by Boeing, in addition to the 387 grounded MAXs at customers, along with the almost 100 fuselages that aerostructures supplier Spirit AeroSystems has parked in Wichita.

With Boeing’s reversal and proposal that MAX pilots should undergo simulator training, the requirement—if mandated by the FAA or other aviation regulators—will add two-to-five months alone to the push-out time line. There are only 36 known MAX simulators operating worldwide, although major provider CAE continues to build so-called white tail sims for sale.

Once suppliers restart production, it could take up to six months until the first MAX delivery of a new-built aircraft, Michaels told the Seattle-area conference. Boeing CEO and president David Calhoun and CFO Greg Smith have cautioned stakeholders that they will build production “slowly,” as Boeing’s empty production system resets from its first position.

“We had a very orderly shutdown of the line,” Smith told the Cowen investor conference Feb. 12. “When you look at those three lines, they’re empty.”

Boeing has a lot to coordinate as it restarts the line, the CFO continued. “The needle we’re threading is we’ve got airplanes that are out on the ramp. We’ve got to get those delivered,” Smith said. “We’ve got our factory, our supply chain and then ultimately customers’ ability to take the airplanes. And then, of course, we’ve got the added element in that delivery now with the FAA being involved in every delivery of every MAX airplane that we’ve assumed will continue.”

Michaels said with all of that factored in, it means the MAX ramp up will be gradual, with deliveries likely starting in the fourth quarter, which begins in October.

Michael Bruno

Based in Washington, Michael Bruno is Aviation Week Network’s Executive Editor for Business. He oversees coverage of aviation, aerospace and defense businesses, supply chains and related issues.


1 Comment
Factory, supply chain, customers, FAA... OK, fine. How about the flying public?