Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at the company’s production facility on November 18, 2020 in Renton, Washington.
David Ryder | Getty Images
Boeing It warned Thursday that it will likely have to scale back deliveries of its 737 MAX jet in the near term due to a problem with a part by the supplier. Soul Aviation Systems.
Boeing said its supplier told the company that a “non-standard” manufacturing process was used in two assemblies in the rear fuselage. It said the problem affects the 737 Max 8, the airline’s most popular model, including customers American Airlines And Southwest Airlines. It also affects the 737 Max 7, 737 8200 and P-8 aircraft.
Boeing said the problem is not “an immediate flight safety issue and the fleet in service can continue to operate safely.”
The company said Boeing has notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the problem and is working to inspect and remediate the fuselage as needed. The FAA said Boeing brought it to the attention of the matter and also said there was no immediate safety issue.
However, the problem is likely to affect a significant number of 737 MAX aircraft that have not been delivered, either in production or in storage.”
“We expect 737 MAX deliveries to decrease in the near term while this required work is completed,” Boeing said in a statement. “We regret the impact of this issue on affected customers and are in contact with them regarding the delivery schedule.” “We will provide additional information in the coming days and weeks as we better understand the effects of delivery.”
The problem, the latest in a series of production issues, is plaguing Boeing as it strives to ramp up production and deliveries of its best-selling jet while customers wait for new planes to take advantage of the upturn in travel. Boeing will likely brief investors on the issue during its annual shareholder meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.
Boeing shares fell 5 percent on Friday. Spirit AeroSystems shares fell 20%.
Spirit manufactured some of the airframes used in Boeing’s planes and said in a statement that it had notified Boeing of a “quality problem” with some 737 models.
“Spirit is developing an inspection and repair of the affected fuselage,” the company said. “We continue to coordinate closely with our customers to resolve this issue and minimize impacts while maintaining our focus on safety.”
It is the latest production problem for Boeing and its customers. Boeing earlier this year paused deliveries of its 787 Dreamliners for several weeks to address a data analysis flaw, and in 2021 and 2022 it suffered other production defects on its wide-body jets that halted deliveries for several months.
On Tuesday, the company announced deliveries of 64 aircraft in March, the highest number since December, amid an industry-wide shortage of new aircraft.
Airline executives have cited supply constraints on aircraft as among the main challenges in ramping up flying ahead of the peak travel season.
“We are aware of the issue and are working with Boeing to understand how it may affect our Max shipments,” an American Airlines spokesperson said in a statement.
Southwest said in a statement that it expects the issue to affect the delivery schedule for the new MAX aircraft and that it is discussing details of that schedule for this year “and beyond.”
United said they did not expect any “significant impact” on their capacity plans this summer or the rest of 2023.
— CNBC’s Leslie Joseph and Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.