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With China recertification, Boeing pivots to ramp 737 Max output

Internally, Boeing flags engineering need as possible threat to future production increase.

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Release Date
December 10, 2021
With China recertification, Boeing pivots to ramp 737 Max output
Boeing, for the first time in more than three years, is accelerating its internal planning for delivering on its production ramp up, enabled by the recertification of the 737 Max by China.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China, which was the first regulator to ground the aircraft after its two crashes, on December 2 cleared a spate of changes to the 737 Max that mirrored those proffered by Boeing to other global regulators that enabled the aircraft to first return to service in the U.S. in November 2020. The country has yet to finalize its ungrounding, which would come with reopening Chinese airspace to the Max.

Read: CAAC clears 737 Max, but aviation in China is different 33 months later

Slowly over the past year, global regulators have followed suit with their own approvals and additional requirements for coming models. None were more consequential than China, given the geopolitical climate and the outsized importance as a market for western jetliners.

In recent weeks, Boeing began reactivating projects supporting its rate increases, previously put on hold during the pandemic, say those involved in production planning. Yet, Boeing still faces numerous challenges inside its own operation over the coming year and within its fragile supply chain to achieve a return to steady production.

Read: As China freezes out Boeing, Airbus ramp grows output imbalance

Having enough specialized engineers to prepare its aircraft for delivery is a major future concern for the company, according to documents reviewed by The Air Current, as it aims at building 31 aircraft per month early next year. Boeing in late October said it reached 19 per month in late October, when it last shared its rate.

The industry is closely watching Boeing’s progress as a bellwether for its own health and that of the disrupted global supply chain. While its build rate will accelerate to 31 early next year, the company will need to advance its delivery rate well over that level in order to burn down its enormous inventory of 737 Max aircraft built and stored during the grounding.

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