Boeing nears its 737 delivery target for 2023 despite ongoing issues 

Thiago B Trevisan / Shutterstock

Boeing has delivered 351 of its popular 737 family of twinjets so far in 2023. This total is just 25 airframes short of its revised annual target of 375-400 units targeted for the year.  

With 46 new planes reportedly being delivered in November alone, the company remains on track to meet its revised target for the year. The breakdown of November’s deliveries comprised 45 MAX-8 and MAX-9 aircraft and a single 737 NG-based P-8 maritime patrol aircraft.  

Boeing has yet to confirm its final figures for November 2023 until December 13, 2023, when it will release the month’s total orders and delivery numbers. 

Boeing was forced to adjust its original delivery target for the 737 family program downwards from 400-450 planes to the current estimate in October 2023.  

The downgrading of the company’s own forecasts was forced upon it after a manufacturing flaw was identified at Spirit AeroSystems. This third party provides fuselage sections to Boeing at its Renton assembly plant in Seattle, United States.  

The specific issue involves fastener holes on the 737 aft pressure bulkhead that were improperly drilled and either misaligned, elongated, or both.  

About 75% of the 220 737s in Boeing’s inventory at the time required reworking due to the fault and exacerbated an existing issue that involved improperly attached brackets on the 737’s vertical tail, according to Boeing.  

Spirit AeroSystems makes 70% of the 737’s structure and uses an automated drilling process that creates an oblong hole (rather than a round hole) on the aft pressure bulkhead if it is not correctly executed.  

The flaw led to the need for extensive aircraft inspections, which slowed down the pre-delivery process. Due to the increased inspection times because of the issue, Boeing only managed to deliver 15 Boeing 737s in September and 19 in October 2023.  

Thiago B Trevisan /

In comparison, Boeing’s European competitor, Airbus, has announced that it delivered 64 aircraft in November, leaving the European manufacturer 97 planes short of its ambitious goal of delivering 720 aircraft by the end of 2023.  

However, analysts maintain that Airbus’ full-year delivery target remains increasingly manageable after a torrid spell year in 2022 when the company missed and eventually abandoned its annual target goal amid significant supply issues. That said, CEO Guillaume Faury has publicly stated that global supply chain issues remain. 

The perennial competition between Boeing and Airbus for orders and deliveries remains a focal point in the aerospace industry, as both companies strive to meet their increasingly ambitious annual delivery targets amidst both market and manufacturing challenges. 

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