Boeing Achieves 737 Production Rate Increase


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Boeing Achieves 737 Production Rate Increase

By Steve Hall

January 15, 2012 - Boeing has successfully achieved a production rate of 35 airplanes a month for the Next-Generation 737, with the delivery of the first airplane produced at the new rate to AWAS Aviation Services, Inc. Norwegian Air Shuttle will lease the airplane from AWAS.

The 35th airplane to be built at the new rate is on schedule to roll out of the factory today which demonstrates that the production system has been operating successfully at a rate of 35 airplanes a month. 

Prompted by the modern Airbus A320, Boeing initiated development of an updated series of aircraft in 1991. After working with potential customers, the 737 Next Generation (NG) program was announced on November 17, 1993.

The 737NG encompasses the -600, -700, -800, and -900, and is to date the most significant upgrade of the airframe. The performance of the 737NG is, in essence, that of a new aircraft, but important commonality is retained from previous 737 models. The wing was redesigned with a new airfoil section, greater chord, increased wing span by 16 ft (4.9 m) and area by 25%, which increased total fuel capacity by 30%. New, quieter, more fuel-efficient CFM56-7B engines were used. The wing, engine, and fuel capacity improvements combined increase the 737's range by 900 nautical miles to over 3,000 nautical miles now permitting transcontinental service.  

With the increased fuel capacity, higher maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) specifications are offered. The 737NG included redesigned vertical stabilizers, and winglets were available on most models. The flight deck was upgraded with modern avionics, and passenger cabin improvements similar to those on the Boeing 777, including more curved surfaces and larger overhead bins than previous-generation 737s. The Next Generation 737 interior was also adopted on the Boeing 757-300. 

Employees will focus on stabilizing the production rate at 35 a month while investments are underway to go up in rate to 38 737s a month in second quarter 2013 and 42 a month in the first half of 2014. Leaders of the 737 program acknowledged employees' contributions to achieving the record rate at an employee celebration at the Renton factory today. Employee teams implemented new lean improvements to create production capacity.

"Working as a team, we have achieved production levels never previously reached," Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of the 737 program, told employees. "It's because of the focus and dedication of 737 employees that we've reduced waste in our production system and identified opportunities to further increase our productivity.


"The first airplane at the 35-a-month production pace rolled out of the factory the smoothest ever. Only eight jobs were completed outside of our production sequence out of thousands and we only experienced three part shortages during production," Wyse said. 


The program also celebrated securing production of the 737 MAX at the Renton factory. "The capability of this team played heavily into the decision to keep the 737 MAX here in Renton," Wyse said. "With the years of dedication and experience our employees have, there's no one better at designing and building the 737."

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