Boeing’s drastic decision to suspend 737 MAX production in the face of managing a growing fleet of idle aircraft and continued uncertainty over when the model will be approved to return to service is sending shockwaves through the airline industry, posing new questions for suppliers, operators and the manufacturer itself.
The Chicago-based company on Dec. 16 said it would stop building new MAXs this month. It did not provide a specific date for the pause or speculate when production would resume. No furloughs are planned, and the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft line will not be affected.
The move will stop the accumulation of undelivered MAXs which has grown to about 400 since the model was grounded in mid-March following its second fatal accident in five months. Boeing halted deliveries immediately after regulators grounded the 387 aircraft in service, and in April it cut monthly 737 production to 42 from 52.
Boeing says once the MAX is cleared to return, it will prioritize clearing the backlog of stored aircraft, suggesting a production resumption will not come in lockstep with regulatory approval. The reason: Boeing has no idea when its entire global customer base will be able to take MAXs again.
The uncertainty raises lots of questions for suppliers, and little information has emerged from managers in the days following the OEM’s announcement. Key factors include whether the company actually cuts orders to suppliers, whether they receive financial assistance from Boeing or others, and whether they or Boeing decide to furlough or shed employees.
Suppliers are in a wait-and-see mode until later this month, when Boeing should be providing more information as it actually cuts MAX production and reports 2019 financial results to Wall Street on Jan. 28, 2020.
《威奇塔鹰报》报道称，堪萨斯州长Laura Kelly自愿表示，由于737机型的主要供应商Spirit AeroSystems以及Cox Machine等多家小分包商都位于她所在的辖区，因而堪萨斯州可能会介入此事协助支付工人薪资，让他们继续留在装配线上。Spirit公司首席执行官Tom Gentile向她表示，公司不打算裁员，但目前还没有做出决定。
The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has volunteered that her state, home of leading 737 supplier Spirit AeroSystems and many of its smaller subcontractors like Cox Machine, may have to step in and help pay workers to keep them on the assembly line. Spirit CEO Tom Gentile told her the company is not expecting layoffs but no decisions have been made.
“在737 MAX机型停飞期间，我们会继续跟波音公司密切合作，为其提供支持，”Spirit表示。“如果波音公司决定改变MAX机型的产能以及对供应商的期望，我们将跟他们接洽使其了解这样做会给Spirit AeroSystems公司造成怎样的影响。”Spirit公司将其他问题提及给波音公司。
“We continue to work closely with our Boeing customer to support it during the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet,” Spirit says. “Should Boeing make a decision to change its production rate on the MAX and expectations for suppliers, we will work with them to understand the impact to Spirit AeroSystems.” Spirit referred additional questions to Boeing.
突然停产对Leap 1B引擎提供商CFM可能也会造成潜在的重大影响。合资企业GE Aviation-Safran整个2018年度都在全力追赶波音公司不断加快的MAX机型产能。在MAX机型停飞、月产能缩减至42架的数个月后，该公司才于2019年度基本持平。Leap 1B（含备件）的月产能稳定在80的估算值后，该公司在12月中旬前一直在筹备自己的供应链以妥善应对波音公司曾表示的会于2020年底至2021年初恢复交付并不断增加产能。
The abrupt shutdown could also have a potentially significant impact on Leap 1B engine provider CFM. The GE Aviation-Safran joint venture spent all of 2018 attempting to catch up with Boeing’s accelerating MAX production rate. It only achieved parity in 2019, several months after aircraft production was reduced to 42 per month, in the wake of the MAX grounding. Having stabilized production at just over an estimated 80 Leap 1Bs per month, including spares, the company until mid-December was readying its own supply chain for the anticipated resumption of deliveries and gradual increase in the production rate that Boeing had signaled for late 2020 and into 2021.
凭借对航空供应链的深入洞察，Canaccord Genuity分析师Ken Herbert预计，尽管波音公司已正式停产MAX机型，但广大供应商在某种程度上依然会维持MAX相关部件的产能。“尽管波音公司极有可能会在一定程度上让多数供应商继续运营，但这是基于多种因素而对各家供应商所作的分析，”他表示。
Canaccord Genuity analyst Ken Herbert, who has deep ties within the aerospace supply chain, expects suppliers to maintain some level of MAX-related production despite Boeing’s formal halt. “While Boeing will likely keep most suppliers running at some level, it will be supplier-by-supplier analysis, depending on a number of factors,” he says.
“We believe Boeing will do all that is possible to ensure that its suppliers are able to maintain their 737 employees, to ensure that once Boeing is able to start deliveries of the 737 again it has the ability to ramp up production as quickly as possible,” Herbert added.
Indeed, maintaining workforce quality and quantity has been a challenge since at least 2018, when Boeing, Spirit and other suppliers struggled to hire and bring on-line enough workers to meet Boeing’s march to a 737 monthly production rate of 57, which was slated to be in place this past summer. Now, the potential loss of talent, access to funding and other incremental risk to the supply chain all point to “substantial uncertainty” about Boeing’s ability to raise rates once the production pause ends, according to Herbert.
这条消息是Michael Bruno，Guy Norris, Molly McMillin和Sean Broderick在Aviation Week & Space Technology发表文章的摘要。欲更详细地了解暂停生产给Cox Machine、Spirit AeroSystems和CFM等公司造成的潜在影响以及737机型自1965年开始组装以来的生产历史，请阅读全文。
This is an abbreviated version of an article by Michael Bruno, Guy Norris, Molly McMillin & Sean Broderick that appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology. Read more details about the potential impact on companies like Cox Machine, Spirit AeroSystems and CFM as well as the history of the 737 production since assembly began in 1965 in the full article.