Even as Boeing weighs taking production rates of the popular 737 beyond the 38 per month officials have announced, to 42 a month (41 for the commercial 737 and one for the 737-based P-8A Poseidon), consideration is underway to boosting rates even more-to 50 per month, ATI and Flightglobal sister publication Commercial Aviation Online (CAO) has learned.
In a meeting with employees last month, Nicole Piasecki, vice president of Business Development & Strategic Integration, said that Boeing is prepared to move forward with a 737 re-engine or a new airplane, as well as proceed with further upgrades to the current Next Generation 737, but there are other considerations as well in making these program development decisions.
"We are looking at what technology do we have that will allow us to bring a superior product into the market toward the latter end of this decade," Paisecki told employees. "Our customers would like it sooner rather than later, but there is one additional perspective. Going forward, we are probably going to see production rates at about 50 [737s] per month as we look out in the growth of the industry."
Officials have inspected the land around its Renton, Washington 737 production plant to consider expansion, CAO understands. The facility, with some rejigging of the internal footprint, can accommodate 42 airplanes a month, although ramp space for the finished product will be challenging.
"The production line is really efficient today," Piasecki told employees, "so we have to have not only abetter performing product, we also have to have a more efficient, higher quality production system."
In the same meeting, Piasecki was asked whether the high productions rates might mean setting up another line at an underutilized Boeing facility in another state, Piasecki noted that prospect is not part of her job description but answered that "if we aren't uncovering every opportunity to ensure that we can get up to rate, we should be."