After more than a year of calls from lessors and suppliers to cut production of its 737, Boeing is now considering an increase in production, and plans to render its decision mid-year.
The airframer is also contemplating an increase in monthly 777 production, and could issue a decision as soon as April.
Jim Albaugh, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO, speaking at the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation & Defense Conference in New York, says: "We think we're coming back into a positive cycle in the marketplace."
Albaugh says that Boeing's 737 delivery slots are "sold out" in 2011 and production is "over committed" in 2012, based on the current 31.5 aircraft per month output. "We will make a decision some time this summer about increasing that rate," he says.
A specific potential increase in 737 production rates was not identified by Albaugh. However, Airbus announced today that it would increase A320 production from 34 to 36 aircraft per month beginning in December, an almost 6% increase in narrowbody output.
On widebody production rates, Albaugh says that a decision on 777 production would come in April for an increase beginning in 2011. Currently, 777 rates are expected to drop to 5 per month in June from the 7 per month peak in 2009.
Additionally, Albaugh says that 787 production, currently at 2 aircraft per month, will rise to 2.5 per month in August as the airframer continues to ramp toward 10 aircraft per month in 2013.
Compared to historical rates of widebody production, 10 787s per month would be an unprecedented pace for Boeing, which Albaugh says would dwarf the 92 747-100s built in 1970 at the start of the programme.
With all of these perspective production increases planned, Albaugh says his intention is to retake the number one production spot from Airbus and become the world's largest aircraft maker by volume by the end of 2011.
Airbus forecasts delivering between 480 to 485 aircraft in 2010, while Boeing estimates it will deliver between 460 to 465 aircraft, including the first 787 to Japan's All Nippon Airways.
Airbus was the world's largest aircraft maker by volume in 2009, while Boeing held the title for total value.