Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief Scott Carson is reaffirming his commitment to holding 737 production rates even in the face of an unprecedented global economic downturn.

Carson made those comments at Boeing's yearly investor conference as he was repeatedly questioned on his company's decision to hold production rates at the same level.

Members of the investment and financial community expressed caution about the potential for steep cuts that could hurt the airframer if narrowbody rates were not adjusted.

6000th 737
 © Boeing

Carson's position remains one of "cautious optimism" as he cites the roughly $270 billion backlog of aircraft as a point of "unparalleled opportunity in the history of jet aviation" for the airframer as it works through the downturn.

"This more than anything has protected us from having to make quick decisions that affect both our ability to produce aircraft and our ability to make profit on stable production. We consciously oversold against our production target primarily on the single-aisle airplanes," says Carson.

"In the end I think history has borne out that selling aggressively against our production plan and using aggressive sales to mitigate the downside impacts has served us well," he adds.

"I remain cautiously optimistic that we have the ability to build through this cycle on the 737," says Carson. "We continue to manage it aggressively, we continue to respond to customer requests for adjustments in schedule and to backfill any of those adjustments with pent-up demand for the product. We think that will work and we remain committed to that course."

To date, Boeing has earned orders for 60 aircraft with 60 cancellations, making the net growth for the company's orderbook zero for 2009.

Source: Flight International