Boeing has won permits to build up to 10.4 planes per month when it starts production of the new 777X jetliner in Everett. That would be a world record for any wide-body aircraft on a single production line.
Now Boeing just has to win a lot more orders for its largest twin-jet engine planes.
Boeing won permits last year to build 8.3 of the 777X planes per month at first, but then ramp up to 10.4 per month in phase two of production.
But London-based aerospace publication FlightGlobal ran a story Tuesday on the permit, just a week after the end of the Paris Air Show, saying that Boeing could raise production “25 percent” to 10.4 monthly under its permits.
Boeing still may be forced to reduce production if it can’t sell enough of the classic 777s to keep rate at 8.3 monthly until full deliveries of the 777X start after 2020.
While Boeing won a gusher of 220 air show orders for the 777X at the 2014 Farnborough Air Show, it didn’t win any more until Paris, when it won just 10 from Qatar Airways.
“They certainly haven’t sold much in the way of additional 777Xs since the initial splurge,” said Scott Hamilton, president of aerospace consultancy Leeham LLC.
With just 296 of the re-engined jet on its order books, the company will need a lot more orders to ever expand volume to 10.4 monthly.
Adam Pilarski, senior vice president for Avitas Inc. in Washington, D.C., said the 777X order trough shouldn’t be too worrying.
“There is time for launch, and a time to wait for actual things to start happening,” he said. The real question is whether it’s smart to plan for the possibility of building 10.4 monthly, said Saj Ahmad, chief analyst for StrategicAero Research in London.
"Given the wild success of the current 777 program now at 8.3 a month, Boeing would be crazy not to look for scope beyond this for 777X," he said, adding that Boeing needs to be “agile.”
“The 777X has a huge head start thanks to some big orders,” he said. “Other 777 customers will follow suit.”
Boeing declined to comment on whether it’s planning any future rate hikes.
“As part of our normal business planning, the 777X program needs to anticipate any and all future possible requirements,” Boeing said in a statement. “No future rate decisions beyond the current 777 rate have been made at this point.”
(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)