Boeing warns of lowered 737 Max manufacturing, deliveries as a result of elements issues

Boeing 737 Max aircraft stand parked at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington on November 18, 2020.

David Ryder | Getty Images

Boeing warned on Thursday that it is likely to have to reduce deliveries of its 737 Max aircraft because of a problem with a part manufactured by the supplier Spirit AeroSystems.

Boeing said the issue was not an “immediate flight safety issue and the operating fleet is safe to continue operating.”

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However, the issue is likely to affect a significant number of undelivered 737 MAX aircraft, both in production and in storage,” the manufacturer said in a statement.

The problem, the latest in a series of production woes, hits Boeing as it scrambles to ramp up production and deliveries of its best-selling plane while customers wait for new jetliners to capitalize on a recovery in travel.

Boeing shares fell 4% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the problem emerged. Spirit AeroSystems shares fell nearly 8%.

Spirit makes some of the fuselages used on Boeing jets and said in a statement that it had notified Boeing of a “quality issue” with certain 737 models.

“Spirit is working to develop an inspection and repair for the affected hulls. We continue to coordinate closely with our customer to resolve this issue and minimize the impact while continuing to focus on safety,” the company said.

Boeing has notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the issue and is working to inspect and fix the fuselages as needed, the company said.

“We expect fewer 737 MAX deliveries in the near term while this required work is completed. We regret the impact this issue will have on affected customers and are in contact with them regarding their delivery schedule,” Boeing said in a statement. “We will provide additional information in the coming days and weeks as we better understand the impact on delivery.”

The FAA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It’s the latest production problem for Boeing and its customers. Boeing suspended deliveries of its 787 Dreamliners for several weeks earlier this year to fix a data analysis error, and in 2021 and 2022 the company struggled with other manufacturing errors on the widebody jets that halted deliveries for months.

The company on Tuesday reported delivering 64 aircraft in March, the highest number since December, amid an industry-wide shortage of new jets.

Airline executives have cited aircraft shortages as one of the biggest challenges in increasing air travel ahead of the peak travel season.

– CNBC’s Leslie Josephs and Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.

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