Boeing warns of diminished 737 Max deliveries because of components points

Boeing 737 Max aircraft stand parked at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington on November 18, 2020.

David Ryder | Getty Images

Boeing on Thursday it warned that a problem with a part manufactured by the supplier will likely force it to reduce deliveries of its 737 Max aircraft in the short term Spirit AeroSystems.

Boeing said its supplier informed the company that a “non-standard” manufacturing process was used on two fittings in the rear fuselages. The issue affects certain 737 Max 8 aircraft, the company’s most popular model, including customers American Airlines And Southwest Airlines. It also affects certain 737 Max 7, 737 8200 and P-8 aircraft.

Boeing said the issue was not an “immediate flight safety issue and the operating fleet is safe to continue operating.”

Boeing has notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the issue and is working to inspect and fix the fuselages as needed, the company said. The FAA said Boeing had notified them of the issue and also said there was no immediate safety issue.

However, the issue is likely to affect a significant number of undelivered 737 Max aircraft, both in production and in storage,” the manufacturer said in a statement.

“We expect fewer 737 MAX deliveries in the near term while this required work is completed. We regret the impact this issue will have on affected customers and are in contact with them regarding their delivery schedule,” Boeing said in a statement. “We will provide additional information in the coming days and weeks as we better understand the impact on delivery.”

The problem, the latest in a series of production woes, hits Boeing as it scrambles to ramp up production and deliveries of its best-selling plane while customers wait for new jetliners to capitalize on a recovery in travel. Boeing is likely to update investors on the issue during its annual shareholders meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

Boeing shares fell 5% on Friday. Spirit AeroSystems shares fell 20%.

Spirit makes some of the fuselages used on Boeing jets and said in a statement that it had notified Boeing of a “quality issue” with certain 737 models.

“Spirit is working to develop an inspection and repair for the affected hulls. We continue to coordinate closely with our customer to resolve this issue and minimize the impact while continuing to focus on safety,” the company said.

It’s the latest production problem for Boeing and its customers. Boeing suspended deliveries of its 787 Dreamliners for several weeks earlier this year to fix a data analysis error, and in 2021 and 2022 the company struggled with other production shortfalls on the widebody jets that halted deliveries for months.

The company on Tuesday reported delivering 64 aircraft in March, the highest number since December, amid an industry-wide shortage of new jets.

Airline executives have cited aircraft shortages as one of the biggest challenges in increasing air travel ahead of the peak travel season.

“We are aware of the issue and are working with Boeing to understand how it could impact our MAX deliveries,” an American Airlines spokesman said in a statement.

Southwest said in a statement it expects the issue to impact its delivery schedule for new Max aircraft and is discussing the details of that schedule for this year “and beyond.”

United said it does not anticipate any “significant impact” on its capacity aircraft for this summer or the rest of 2023.

– CNBC’s Leslie Josephs and Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.

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