Boeing Confident On Delivering 737-10
FARNBOROUGH—Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal says the company remains confident the 737-10 will be developed as planned despite a looming standoff with the U.S. Congress on whether to extend a year-end deadline that would require changes to the aircraft’s flight deck system.
Although Deal acknowledges the year-end certification timeline “is very sporty,” he says following through on the threat to cancel the stretched 737 derivative is unlikely. Deal’s comments follow those of Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun who, during a recent interview with Aviation Week, raised the possibility of this drastic move if the company was forced into a major redesign of the flight deck.
“To me, that's not a high probability path,” says Deal. “The high probability path and the commitment we made to our customers is to get this airplane certified. We're in the midst of that with the FAA right now—doing the certification work on the 737-10. If it takes a little more time we're going to go back to Congress and ask for that time. So my head is focused on delivering that promise to the customer.”
“You’ve seen the orders and confidence coming through from our customers for the 737-10—I think you'll see more,” he adds, hinting of new orders to come at the air show.
If a waiver is not granted, the company would have to redesign the aircraft’s flight deck to add an altering system, eliminating the commonality it shares with the other 737 MAX variants that is a key selling point of the family.
Boeing is meanwhile seeing some initial signs of improvement in the on-going supply chain bottlenecks that have prevented it increasing production of the 737. “In March and April, we did have some impact due to the supply chain that rippled through. We're starting to see the clearing of that actually and this last month we did output 31 from the factory—and netted 43 deliveries. We're going to keep watching the supply chain,” says Deal, who notes that 450 737s have now been delivered since the type returned to service in late 2020.
“When we started our rate plan—and almost every industry is in this position—we underestimated the fact of bringing human capital back into the system. Largely that is one of the major contributors of supply chain performance today. It hasn't come back as fast. The labor that left that we thought would come back didn’t, so there's a new learning curve that's been established,” he adds.
“The good news is the majority industry is already capitalized to higher rates as a result of where we were pre-2020. So I don't think this is going to become a huge capex constraint. I think it's going to be this persistent management of human capital coming back, seeing the training occur and seeing the predictability of the learning curves in our supply chain. Our big focus today is on engines,” Deal says.
For the future, Boeing says it has discussed higher rates with its supply chain. Deal says: “I feel very comfortable with my factory capacity. I may make some adjustments in order to hit higher rates, but I do believe for our ramp up—and I can't speak for Airbus, but this is a pretty homogeneous industry—that we will be supply chain-constrained for a while to get to ramp up.”