Boeing’s planning is “on track with development” of the 737 MAX program to re-engine 737 NGs, says Chairman and Chief Executive James McNerney. The first delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines is set for 2017.
The new airplane, which features the CFM International LEAP-1B engine as its major equipment change from the NG series, is to be built at Boeing’s Renton factory south of Seattle alongside the NG. Boeing will sustain production of NGs to the point where they blend in with MAXs, McNerney says. The two are to be produced alongside each other.
Besides the separate task of completing the MAX design, Boeing’s big task in Renton is to plan for new tooling to accommodate the MAX. Most tooling will be the same as for the NG but the airplane will need modified tooling to accommodate its switch in engines, nose-wheel landing gear and other modifications.
The company will not need brick-and-mortar additions to the factory, he says.
Boeing expects to add some workers this year but not at the pace it built up last year, when it hired 11,000 to keep pace with production ramp-ups, particularly in its 787 and 747-8 programs.
Adding such high tech jobs is “the bedrock of our company and very fashionable these days,” he quipped, probably a reference to the current presidential contest’s focus on US employment.