Boeing Continues 737 MAX Delivery Pace

Air Lease Corp MAXs
Credit: Boeing

Boeing booked 14 net orders in July and delivered 22 737 MAXs, keeping momentum going in two key areas—positive monthly transactions and clearing out its backlog of undelivered narrowbodies.

The company’s totals of 31 gross orders and 17 cancellations marked the sixth consecutive month of net positive bookings and put its 2021 seven-month net order total to 257. Boeing has booked 630 new orders so far this year and recorded 373 cancellations.

Deliveries of 737 MAXs through July 31 totaled 127. Add in 27 delivered in December 2020 after the model was cleared to return to service, and Boeing is averaging about 19 per month. The total includes 14 customer handovers in April and May combined, when deliveries were slowed by a production problem that required immediate fixes to affected aircraft. Boeing delivered 55 737 MAXs in June and July.

The pace of 737 MAX deliveries, and related final delivery payments, is key to Boeing’s financial recovery. The company has said it expected to clear out its backlog of more than 450 737 MAXs that built up during a 20-month grounding by the end of 2022. That suggests a pace of about 18 deliveries per month from the stored inventory, plus handing over new-build models. Boeing is producing about 16 per month and plans to up that rate to 31 per month by early 2022, provided Chinese regulators lift their operations ban on the model put in place in March 2019 following two fatal accidents.

Keeping 737 MAX deliveries flowing is even more critical to the company’s bottom line since 787 deliveries remain paused. July marked the second consecutive month with no 787 handovers, and Boeing has delivered just 11 this year. The company continues to sort through post-production quality issues on the program, inspecting aircraft and, where necessary, making repairs.

July cancellations included 15 737 MAXs—three by AerCap, one by GECAS, and 11 from unidentified customers. The other two cancellations were 787-9s—one by CIT Leasing and one unidentified. 

Boeing delivered 28 aircraft in July, including one KC-46 to the U.S. Air Force and one P-8 to the U.S. Navy. The remaining four deliveries were widebody freighters—one 747-8 to UPS and three 767-300Fs to FedEx Express.

The company’s official backlog stood at 4,141 on July 31, including 929 in its ASC 606 category that signifies under-contract orders that are at risk in the company’s view.

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.