MIAMI — Boeing mechanics officially increased the 737 production rate to 42 per month Wednesday morning. The occasion was marked as the workers loaded the initial parts of the wing spars for a 737-800 into an assembly machine at the Renton, Washington plant. The previous production rate was 38 per month had begun only one year ago.

To meet the ever increasing global demand for the popular narrow-body aircraft, Boeing has managed to increase 737 production rate from 31.5 per month in 2010 to the new 42 rate starting today. In 2017, Boeing will crank up the production rate even further to 47 per month to help put a dent in the current order backlog of 3,680 737 Next Generation and MAX’s. At the present build rate it would take 87.6 months to clear the existing backlog. It takes 46 days to complete an airplane from start to finish, with each aircraft spending ten days on one of the plant’s two moving final assembly lines.

737 Spar Load for 42 Rate Break 4-21  Bldg Renton Factory (Credits: Boeing)
737 Spar Load for 42 Rate Break 4-21 Bldg Renton Factory (Credits: Boeing)

“This rate increase once again reflects our commitment to put the world’s best-selling airplane into the hands of our customers as quickly as possible,” said Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager, 737 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Efficiency improvements in the factory, many of them developed by our employees, are a big part of why we are able to successfully increase the number of airplanes we build.”

Beginning in 2015, the Renton plant will also begin production of the 737 MAX, Boeing’s answer to the Airbus A320 neo, on a new third production line. The third line would enable the plant to go up to 60 jets per month. The 737 MAX improves on the 737NG with the addition of larger engines, and a newly redesigned wing and winglet.

Cabin Interior (Credist: Boeing)
Cabin Interior (Credist: Boeing)

Airbus currently produces A320 family aircraft at a rate of 42 across three plants, with a fourth in Mobile scheduled to come online in 2015. Boeing has worked hard to keep up with Airbus’ expanded production abilities. Despite being beaten in orders in 2013, Boeing still managed to outproduce its European competitor.

Meanwhile, Silk Air received its first Boeing 737-800 Monday. The Southeast Asian regional carrier, part of the Singapore Airlines Group, is transitioning its fleet from Airbus to Boeing. It is due to receive an additional 53 of the jets. The carrier is using the new airplane to roll-out a new interior as well in a bid to more closely align the experience with folks feeding into and out from Singapore Airlines luxurious long-haul flights.