The Boeing 737 is now the most popular commercial jet aircraft ever produced. Through December 2017 Boeing delivered 2,998 Classics, 6,303 NGs, and 70 MAXs. A total of 9,371.
But getting the 737 you ordered takes time. It is interesting to see how the period between the order date and delivery date varies. Customers, of course, play the order game – order the smallest and cheapest and then switch to the larger as time progresses.
Boeing must juggle airline and lessor needs while developing the most stable production plan it can. This is a tough act because the airlines and lessors face many variables. Interest rates, economic cycles, fuel prices and of course wildcard events like war and terrorism.
We selected a few big 737 customers to use as examples. The table lists the model version and the customer name. The numbers in the table are the average number of days between order date and delivery date.
The data offers no obvious pattern. This illustrates how airline fleet planning varies considerably. A plethora of issues makes tracking fleet delivery schedule highly complex. We have used average days to minimize the variances and spikes caused by exogenous factors.
The next chart illustrates how Boeing has seen its 737 business grow since 2000. Despite steady production increases allowing more deliveries, customers can’t seem to get enough 737s and orders handily outpace deliveries.
With such a vast program history which has seen many variations and models, one would expect that Boeing has become efficient at producing 737s. And as the next chart illustrates this is exactly what has happened.
All 737s come from one FAL. The Renton plant performance has been remarkable. The 737 program is arguably Boeing’s greatest effort. As Canaccord Genuity stated in a note today: “The Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 represent each company’s strongest cash generating programs. Investor sentiment is now firmly on Boeing taking 737 production rates to ~63/month in ~2020, with additional upside. ”
The Bottom Line
Taking delivery of a new 737 is easier now than it was. Boeing, having expanded capacity, can better manage its skyline and provide earlier deliveries to customers who need lift, with faster deliveries since 2011. Despite record order and production levels, Boeing has been delivering 737s faster, which helps both its customers and skyline management.