737 Max production outlook

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When will the 737 Max fly again?

In the latest Spirit AeroSystems earnings call for the 4th quarter of 2019 Spirit, Sr. V.P. and CFO Mark Suchinski quoted CEO Tom Gentile as mentioning a possible March resumption of production for the 737 Max.

The earnings call also mentioned after production starts again, there will be a slow ramp-up in the number of planes. And any production could be tied to the FAA and other regulatory agencies approving the Max to fly again.

The news has analysts asking more questions about production possibly starting again.

“The news is definitely healthy for the whole supply chain for the 737 Max,” said Teal Aviation Sr. Analyst Richard Aboulafia. “But nobody more so than Spirit which gets half of its revenue from the Max.”

Boeing is not listing time for production and sent KSN a statement.

“We are working with the FAA to address their requirements as we work to safely return the 737 Max to service in 2020. There is no new timeline for reintroducing the aircraft,” said Peter Pedraza with the Boeing Communications team. “The FAA and global regulatory authorities will determine the timeline for certification and return to service of the 737 Max.”

Still, analysts expect a return to service and possible production start in the middle of 2020. But they say it won’t come without challenges.

“Yeah, it looks like there’s just going to be a couple hundred built this year at most. 216 now is, I believe, current guidance,” said Aboulafia. “As opposed to the original plan of north of three times that. So it’s going to take a while especially since they’ve got 350 or so planes to de-pickle and then 387 to return to service that had been in service.”

Spirit workers unions had no comment on the news but have said in the past they are closely watching for a production start date.

Spirit CEO Tom Gentile also said the outlook remains strong for the Max.

“The Boeing Max backlog remains strong at approximately 4,400 aircraft and there have been no significant cancellations,” said Gentile.

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