Boeing has announced it will add a third 737 production rate increase, with plans to boost narrowbody output to 42 aircraft per month by the first half of 2014.
The airframer currently plans to increase production at its Renton, Washington facility from 31.5 to 35 aircraft per month by early 2012, followed by another boost to 38 in the second quarter of 2013, citing increased demand for its venerable narrowbody.
"Customers are demanding our Next-Generation 737 at an unprecedented rate," said Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "New performance improvements and enhanced passenger comfort features have driven home the value equation for our customers."
Boeing holds 2,100 unfilled orders for 737 family aircraft, 80% of which will deliver with the company's new Boeing Sky Interior, which first entered service with FlyDubai in late 2010.
Boeing currently manages 737 production across two primary lines, the first with capability of 21 per month and the second with a capacity of 10 per month. To meet the 2013 target of 38 aircraft per month the smaller line is being expanded to match the 21 aircraft per month capacity of the first. Boeing's expansion of line aimed to provide it the flexibility of moving to 42 aircraft per month without additional capital expenditure.
"We have worked very closely with our supply chain and our world-class manufacturing team to ensure we can increase rates in an efficient and responsible fashion," said Beverly Wyse, 737 vice president and general manager. "We believe that many of the capital investments and production system changes made for 38 airplanes per month will already position us to build 42," Wyse said. "We are very well situated for this rate increase."
A third line at the Renton facility is limited to the production of the P-8A Poseidon, a heavily modified submarine hunter based on the 737-800 platform.
With 21 manufacturing days per month, Boeing will build two 737s per day at the unprecendented rate and more than 500 per year.
The production rate increase matches that of Airbus on its A320 family aircraft, which plans to reach 42 aircraft per month at its Toulouse and Hamburg facilities by the end of 2012.