A major structural and systems supplier for the Boeing 737 predicts a 30% decline for the narrowbody's monthly production rate after mid-year.

Curtiss-Wright Corp.'s internal financial projections assume that monthly 737 production output will decline from 31 aircraft per month to "about 21.5" per month for the second half of the year.

Curtiss-Wright supplies a variety of 737 parts and systems, including the skewed roller assemblies for the horizontal stabilizer trim actuator, and skew sensors and carriages for the trailing edge flaps.

The New Jersey-based supplier discussed its 2009 outlook during a teleconference with market analysts on 17 February.

"Last year we shipped about 305 737s, and we look at Commercial Aerospace from a Boeing side, it's really the 737 that drives our revenues, and last year because of the strike, we shipped about 305," Curtiss-Wright CEO Martin Benante told the analysts.

"This year, we're anticipating shipping around 315, and we expect the beginning of the year to be at 31 ship sets a month for the first six months, and then go down to about 21.5 ship sets for the last six months," he adds. "And we expect Airbus to be down."

Benante did not indicate that Curtiss-Wright's internal forecast was based on information provided by Boeing to its 737 suppliers.

Moreover, the 57-day strike by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) last year allowed Curtiss-Wright's inventory to accumulate. As a result, the company is already producing 737 shipsets at a rate of 21.5 per month.

"Obviously if [the monthly production rate were] to stay at 31 longer than that, we can easily increase our production to meet that need," Benante says. "But that's our forecast right now."

Boeing has issued guidance projecting about 480-490 aircraft deliveries in 2009.

Last week, Airbus announced plans to cut the A320's monthly production rate by two per month starting in October.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news