Boeing Co.’s April delivery data shows how much a fuselage issue with a supplier slowed the handover of its 737 Max aircraft.
Boeing (NYSE BA) delivered 26 commercial planes last month. This is down from 35 aircraft in March and more than half the number of deliveries that were made in January.
In April, after delivering 52 Maxes with narrow bodies in March this number dropped to 17.
In the middle of the last month, it was revealed that Spirit AeroSystems Inc., a supplier in Wichita (Kansas), had informed Boeing of a manufacturing flaw affecting two of the eight fasteners at the point where the aircraft's tail attaches to its fuselage. This issue only affects certain Max models, but hundreds of aircraft may be affected.
It has not been stated that the manufacturing defect is a safety concern. Spirit, which manufactures the entire fuselage in Wichita has begun local rework of stored fuselages as well as those on the production line.
These repairs will extend to Boeing's own inventory of Max jets, and a number yet to be specified of Maxes in service.
Boeing warned that the situation could slow down deliveries during the summer. Spirit said that the local repairs would continue until the end of July.
However, the problem hasn't stopped planned production increases for the Max.
Boeing had planned to increase Max assembly in Renton from 31 jets per month to 38 in June. By 2025, that number would have increased to 50 or even more.
Spirit, who has received $180 million in funding from Boeing to assist it with the production problem, has said that it has started delivering new fuselages free of the defect.
Boeing's 737 Max program is its largest commercial project. It employs tens and thousands of Washingtonians directly, while also creating jobs for thousands of other suppliers in the state.
Boeing delivered six 787 Dreamliners in April, as well as one 737-800 and two cargo jets each from the 767 and 777 programs.
The manufacturer's bottom-line is heavily influenced by the deliveries, since they are where the aircraft is paid in full.
The April numbers came out the same day that Boeing announced a huge order from Ryanair of up to 300 737 Max 10 aircraft. This was an indication of the demand for a program which had been growing in momentum before the latest quality control problem of the company and its supply chain.