Boeing has rolled out the first Next-Generation 737 built at the new production rate of 38 airplanes a month. Panamanian customer Copa Airlines will take delivery of the 737-800 in early April. The airplane will now undergo functional, systems and flight testing over the next three weeks before being delivered. Boeing is in the process of increasing the production rate on its 737 program from 35 to 38 airplanes per month because of market demand for the world’s best-selling commercial jetliner. Next year, the 737 production rate will increase to 42 airplanes per month. Copa Airlines operates a fleet of more than 50 Next-Generation 737 aircraft.
More importantly, it was announced that Ryanair is going to buy 200 Boeing 737 aircraft, although at an extremely low price:
Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, has agreed to buy as many as 200 Boeing 737 NGs at rock-bottom pricing estimated at less than
$9 billion. An industry source close to the Ryanair deal, here attending the aircraft-financing conference of the International Society for Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT), confirmed the order, which was first reported in the Irish Independent newspaper Tuesday morning. The newspaper said the deal will be officially announced next week when Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny meets President Obama for the annual St. Patrick’s Day visit. The deal is important for Boeing because the 737 NG is the current single-aisle model, and this order provides a bridge to keep production of that model going strong until the 737 MAX replacement comes online in 2017.
Boeing Co’s goal to have its grounded 787 Dreamliner jets back in the air within weeks is a best-case scenario and too uncertain for the aircraft’s biggest customer to plan the plane’s operational return to service. All 50 of the technologically-advanced 787 aircraft in service have been idled since mid-January following two battery incidents at a U.S. airport and on a domestic flight in Japan. Boeing last week unveiled a new battery system and predicted the 787 would fly again within weeks rather than months. Asked whether Boeing was presenting a best-case scenario, Osamu Shinobe, the architect of All Nippon Airways’ strategy to put the fuel-efficient 787 at the center of the airline’s fleet planning, said “That’s what we understand it to be.” ”The problem is we don’t know how long the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will take to finish its checks (on the new battery system),” he told Reuters in an interview. Shinobe, who joined ANA from college in 1976, will run the carrier from April following a switch to a holding company structure. For Boeing to meet its target, Shinobe explained the planemaker needs to complete certification testing this week, gain quick FAA approval followed by an airworthiness directive soon after. It would then have to transport all the parts and equipment to 787 aircraft parked around the world to begin installing the new batteries. Boeing has said that could take a week per plane.
Finally, it is becoming clear that international aircraft producers have to work on an increased production rate capacity on dealing with global current demand for commercial aircraft. As Boeing tries to leave behind the 787 battery drama the 737 NG aircraft proves the new production realities.