Boeing will open a fourth assembly line for the 737/MAX in Puget Sound, but the first in Everett. The line will be located in a building previously used for 787 assembly and should be ready in 2024.
The news was announced by Boeing internally on Monday morning and reported first by The Air Current. Other media confirmed the story. Mechanists union IAM District 751 also shared the news in a message to members and a press release.
With a backlog of some 4.300 737/MAX, production capacity on the two lines currently active in Renton is inadequate to fill demand. Production is now restricted to 31 aircraft per month as suppliers are still recovering from staff and parts shortages. Boeing said last week it expects this situation to continue until late this year, but 2024 should be close to pre-pandemic production capacity. Engine makers Raytheon and General Electric made identical predictions a day earlier. Boeing wants deliveries of all programs to reach 800 again in 2025/2026, a number last reached in 2018. A few years before that, the airframer produced 57 737s a month.
Boeing will reactivate a third line for the 737/MAX in Renton, with the fourth line to open in Everett. This fourth line will increase single aisle capacity by 25 percent, IAM says. This translates into seven to ten aircraft, based on current rates.
Called The North Line internally, it will see Boeing employees working there who are currently winding down activities elsewhere in Everett, like the 747 production. “The North Line is a way for the Company to address customer demand, especially as the -7 and -10 work towards certification.”
The North Line building was used for the 787 until Dreamliner production was consolidated in North Charleston from early 2021. The huge assembly building used for half a century for the 747 will see rework activities done on the 100 787s that are in inventory, of which an unspecified number is located in Everett. The rework is expected to take until late 2024.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.