Boeing sees 737 MAX industrial footprint decision in 6 to 8 months

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Boeing is six to eight months away from determining the industrial footprint for the final assembly of the 737 MAX family, said Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh.

"Like on any new programme we're taking the opportunity to make a decision on where we do the work. And certainly our Renton facility has demonstrated we know how to build this airplane, but we are going to look at Renton and other sites," said Albaugh.

"We're going to base our decision on what's best for the company and what's best for the customers," he added.

The programme was announced today in a press conference at the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Customer Experience Centre near its Renton, Washington facility, where all of its Next-Generation 737 family aircraft undergo final assembly.

Boeing plans to ramp its 737 production to 42 aircraft per month in 2014, with intermediate steps to 35 and 38, and the company opened an expanded wing systems installation line on 22 August at the Renton facility as part of its production ramp up.

"We don't believe that the work scope on doing the final assembly of the MAX is going to be immeasurably different from the work scope from the NG," said Albaugh, "But we have a team sitting down figuring out, how we might transition to the new airplane in Renton and also how we might start up a new facility in a different location."

Albaugh said that Spirit AeroSystems, currently the largest single supplier on the 737 programme, will continue in its current role, having a "very, very similar" scope of work, which includes the 737's fuselage and propulsion integration.

Spirit was created in 2005 as a spin-off of Boeing's Wichita, Kansas site in a bid by the airframer to raise capital to develop the 787.

All 737s have been assembled in Renton during the programme's four-decade long history.