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Boeing 737 MAX Deliveries to Ramp Up

Boeing to accelerate 737 MAX deliveries in 2024 into 2025

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in storage at Boeing Field (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

This past Wednesday, Boeing announced that the manufacturing giant had received type inspection authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its 737 MAX 10 variant. The production and delivery of the MAX family has been more turbulent than Boeing had planned for a decade ago.

Plagued by deadly accidents, supply chain issues, and a global pandemic, the past few years have seen turmoil for the aircraft family. However, with the recent authorization and a strong performance at the Dubai Airshow, Boeing is optimistic that 2024 will be a prosperous year for the single-aisle family. 

Flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from the North, people with window seats have an unparalleled view of Boeing Field when unobstructed by clouds. Many have seen, in person or an image of, the rows of 737 aircraft in production or awaiting delivery. The facility at Boeing Field is used to prepare aircraft for delivery to the respective customer. The MAX family is currently assembled nearby in Renton, Wash. 

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in storage (Photo: AirlineGeeeks | William Derrickson)

The Virginia-based manufacturer had previously estimated that the company would produce an average of 57 aircraft per month by 2019. However, challenges both external and internal to the company have proved difficult to reach that goal. U.K.-based aircraft valuation firm – AviationValues – determined the average number of MAX aircraft delivered monthly in 2019 was 35.

That number fell drastically in 2020 to three per month and rebounded to an average of 11 in 2021. While deliveries declined between the period of 2019-2021, production rates continued strong until the Spring of 2020. While the type was grounded, Boeing continued producing the aircraft in the MAX family. This resulted in a surplus of MAX aircraft that couldn’t be delivered.

Boeing 737 production numbers over the past nine years. (Photo: AviationValues)

Boeing announced the manufacturer has around 250 MAX aircraft in inventory, while AviationValues estimates this number to be closer to 224 as of November 2023. The manufacturer publicized that it plans to have all of the inventory liquidated by the end of 2024.

AviationValues’ team of experts and appraisers believes 2026 is a more reasonable timeframe. This estimate is based on previous deliveries the manufacturer had made between January 2022 and August 2023. This time period was chosen as it was the most uninterrupted period of deliveries for the manufacturer. All major markets had ungrounded the aircraft as of January and quality control issues in relation to the aft pressure bulkhead had not become an issue until after August.

Boeing 737 MAX inventory analysis over a six-year span. (Photo: AviationValues)

The above graphic produced by AviationValues shows the prediction of aircraft being delivered and thus un-grounded. The time frame referenced for the predicted timeframe of deliveries above is based on Boeing producing 19 aircraft a month. The manufacturer has stated that it will boost production to 50 aircraft per month. Thus, the time frame to have the current backlog of grounded aircraft delivered could be extended. 

To boost production from the current value to 50 aircraft per month, Boeing has been working on creating a production line at the Everett, Wash. plant. The line was previously used for 787 production, which has since been moved to where the 747 assembly line was before the last delivery, as reported by the Seattle Times. The Everett assembly line will be the fourth 737 MAX line across Boeing’s campuses. 

Boeing 737 MAX production and delivery rates (Photo: AviationValues)

China Deliveries

There are a multitude of factors contributing to the delay in aircraft being delivered to the customer. Boeing has found the fix to the quality control issue with the aft pressure bulkhead and has the ability to assess six aircraft per month. In addition, Boeing has been unable to deliver MAX jets to Chinese carriers, with Air China receiving the carrier’s most recent example in 2019 and China Sourthern’s in 2018, according to airfleets.net. Per data from AviationValues, the manufacturer has transferred 55 would-be deliveries to Chinese carriers to Air India. 

Chinese and United States government leaders recently met during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, which for Boeing, sparks hope that Chinese carriers will begin to take deliveries in the near future. This is crucial as the majority of aircraft awaiting delivery are for Chinese carriers. Airfleets.net shows Chinese carriers had grounded MAX fleets in storage from 2019 until this year. 

Parked Boeing 737 MAX jets at Boeing Field, most of which destined to Chinese carriers. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fangzhong Guo)

Future MAX Aircraft

Both Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 are currently flying with carriers across the world. The MAX 7 and MAX 10 are both in the certification process. Boeing’s outlook for the MAX 10 is to compete directly with the Airbus A321neo, which has seen the majority of market share for the large single-aisle market. Carriers such as Icelandair have placed orders for the Airbus jet to replace the aging Boeing 757s, while La Compagnie has replaced the carrier’s entire fleet with the Airbus product. 

AviationValues’ experts believe that the MAX 10 will be Boeing’s future standout. Past orders have shown the 737-800 as the most popular model out of the Next Gen fleet. The MAX 8 and MAX 10 are so far the two most popular based on current order books.

A Korean Air 737 MAX among stored planes at Moses Lake. Two new Korean airlines are launching in the coming months. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

However, Boeing is looking for the MAX 10 to compete directly with the A321neo and win back some of the market share for the manufacturing giant. 26% of the current backlog is for MAX 10 aircraft, while 44% is for the popular MAX 8. Both being successful is crucial to Boeing’s long-term success. 

The MAX 7 and MAX 9 haven’t seen as much popularity with carriers compared to the other two aircraft in the series. Boeing has begun delivering MAX 9 aircraft and reducing the backlog. The MAX 7 represents just 7% of the manufacturer’s backlog at the time of writing. Southwest Airlines is responsible for the majority of the orders for the smallest jet in the MAX family, placing an order for additional examples this past October. 

Zach Cooke

Author

  • Zach Cooke

    Zach’s love for aviation began when he was in elementary school with a flight sim and model planes. This passion for being in the air only intensified throughout high school when he earned his Private Pilot Certificate. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, earning his certificates and ratings to later flight instruct and share his passion for aviation with others. He now resides in the North East living out his dream as an airline pilot.

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