Boeing prepares to swap engines from MAX inventory to new production

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By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 15, 2022, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO David Calhoun says the company won’t build 737 gliders. That’s what airplanes are called as they exit final assembly without engines. The mitigation, to use Calhoun’s word, ironically comes from a circumstance that bedeviled Boeing since March 2019.

Planning is underway to take engines from the large inventory of stored 737 MAX aircraft to install on new production airplanes, LNA confirmed.

Engineless Boeing 737 MAXes in 2018. Boeing is making counterweights to hang on the new-production airplanes if CFM can’t deliver engines on time. Credit: Woody’s Images.

Boeing is producing 20-30 ship sets of counterweights, LNA is told. The counterweights are yellow blocks hung from the pylons to which engines are attached. The weights are needed to prevent the airplanes from sitting on their tails without the heavy engines installed. The counterweights will be installed on the stored airplanes when the CFM LEAP-1B engines are removed to install on new production aircraft as they roll off the final assembly line in Renton (WA).

In 2018, some MAXes rolled off the final assembly line without engines when CFM deliveries couldn’t match the production rate then.

Airbus has upward of 30 A320 gliders because CFM and Pratt & Whitney can’t deliver engines on time due to supply chain issues. Boeing, struggling to return to the 2019 737 production rate of 52 / mo following the 21-month grounding of the MAX and a slow recovery from the COVID pandemic, hasn’t produced gliders yet. CFM is the exclusive engine supplier for the MAX.