Boeing ended 2023 with about 200 737 Max and 50 787s in its inventory of undelivered jets, and executives still expect the company will deliver most of those by the end of the year.

Reaching that goal will require Boeing to significantly ramp up its delivery of jets to customers in China, a goal made more feasible now that Boeing recently resumed delivering both aircraft types to Chinese buyers.

Several years ago Boeing was sitting on an inventory of some 450 undelivered 737 Max – aircraft it produced during the 20-month 737 Max grounding and concurrent pandemic, when demand for new aircraft shrivelled up.

Maxes at Renton-c-VDB Photo_Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Boeing still holds some 200 undelivered 737 Max, down from about 450 several years ago

It has now whittled its 737 stockpile to about 200 jets, chief financial officer Brian West said on 31 January during Boeing’s 2023 earnings call. That figure is down from about 220 undelivered 737 Max in mid-2023.

The 200 narrowbodies still in Boeing’s hands include about 25 jets that Boeing produced in 2023 but has not delivered due to “disruptions”, says West. He is not more specific, but Boeing has needed to perform rework on many 737s in its inventory due to quality problems. Boeing expects to deliver those 25 aircraft this year.

The inventory also includes roughly 140 737 Max 8s produced before 2023. Of those, “the vast majority are for customers in China and India”, says West, adding that Boeing also plans to “deliver most of those” by year-end.

In recent weeks, news broke that China had approved Boeing to resume 737 Max deliveries. Those deliveries had largely been paused since immediately after the second 737 Max 8 crash, in March 2019, which prompted regulators to ground the jets.

West says Boeing’s inventory also includes a mix of 35 Max 7s and Max 10s that it cannot deliver until the Federal Aviation Administration certificates the types.

When that might happen remains unclear. Company executives said on 31 January that Boeing must first redesign the type’s engine anti-ice system, which could take up to one year.

Boeing now has about 50 787s in its stockpile, all of which require rework, says West. That is down from more than 100 undelivered 787s a few years ago.

Boeing also accumulated those as amid the pandemic and as it worked in recent years through quality problems that necessitated rework.

Boeing expects to deliver the 50 widebodies this year and still anticipates hitting its goal of producing 10 787s monthly in 2025 or 2026, up from five monthly today.

“We expect… to liquidate a lot of [787] inventory,” West says. “The programme is doing just fine and the backlog is big.”