Boeing considers faster assembly rate for 777X

EVERETT — The Boeing Co. is considering making its new 777X jetliner at a historically high rate for a mini-jumbo airplane.

The company is making sure it can make about 125 777Xs a year if demand is that high. That would be a 25 percent increase over the production rate for its 777 classic.

The push past 100 airplanes a year is “tentatively scheduled to begin in 2021,” according to a document prepared earlier this month by the state’s Department of Ecology.

However, Boeing has not committed to making that many 777X jetliners.

The Ecology document is part of an environmental permit application filed by Boeing.

“As part of our normal business planning, the 777X program needs to anticipate in any and all future possible requirements,” Boeing 777X program spokesman Scott Lefeber said. “Part of this evaluation requires Boeing to take action years in advance to ensure environmental permits, tools and parts are complete and ready to support our potential requirements.”

Right now, the company does not plan on taking production rates past the current 777 rate of 100 a year, or 8.3 a month.

Boeing aims to start low-rate production of the 777X in 2017. It plans to first deliver the larger 777-9 in 2020. The 777-8 would follow within a few years later.

The Chicago-based company is considering offering a freighter version based on the shorter 777-8 model. It could be available 18 to 24 months after first delivery of the 777-8, according to the company.

The number of workers at Boeing’s Everett plant, where the 777X will be assembled, could increase by as much as 3,000 due to the new airplane program, according to the Ecology document.

About 40,000 people currently work at the Everett facility, which is adjacent to Paine Field, according to the company.

Boeing does not publicly say how many people work on specific airplane programs. However, a study commissioned by the Washington Aerospace Partnership estimated that the 777 classic program directly employed 12,100 people — including 7,100 in production and maintenance — in 2012.

Executives have said they plan to reduce 777 production as it ramps up 777X production. Speaking to investment analysts last month, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg confirmed that 777 production is slated to step down to seven planes a month by 2017.

The actual output could be less than the production rate, which reflects how fast the giant airliners move along the final assembly line in Everett, said Boeing vice president Elizabeth Lund earlier this year. Lund is the 777’s program manager.

Output can be lowered by leaving a slot on the assembly line empty. The empty slots are called blanks.

Many industry analysts have speculated that Boeing will need to further cut production to 6 or even 5 planes a month.

Boeing will have to make a decision next year on how many 777s it wants to make, when it begins ordering parts for 2017 production.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Darren Redick is the new CEO of Providence’s Northwest Washington service area. (Providence Health and Services) 20210514
Providence stays local in selecting a new regional CEO

Based in Everett, Darren Redick will lead the health care provider’s Northwest Washington area.

Views of the Riverfront development on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 in Everett, Wa. The Riverfront Redevelopment consists of three different large sections all owned by Polygon Homes. All three sections run North to South along the Snohomish river (just East of 41st street), and range from around 40-70 acres each. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Riverfront construction could start soon — without a cinema

The pandemic’s effects on movie theaters have delayed some work at the 70-acre Everett development.

A Boeing 737 Max lands during a test flight in Seattle on Sept. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Chona Kasinger.
Boeing Max nears return with repair plan cleared by FAA

The company faces extra scrutiny as it works to convince regulators globally that the Max is safe.

FILE - In this Monday, March 1, 2021 file photo, The first Alaska Airlines passenger flight on a Boeing 737-9 Max airplane takes off on a flight to San Diego from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. Many new Boeing 737 Max jetliners are still grounded by an electrical problem in a backup power-control unit. The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday, April 22, 2021 that 106 planes worldwide are grounded, including 71 in the United States. Airlines are waiting for Boeing to come up with a plan for repairing the planes, and that plan would need FAA approval. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Halt to 737 Max deliveries stymies Boeing’s recovery effort

So far in 2021, the company has delivered 94 jets and won 84 net new orders.

Man who runs Everett business charged in U.S. Capitol case

Joseph Elliott Zlab, 51, of Lake Forest Park, was arrested in Everett on Thursday, the FBI said.

Indian drink condiments cartoon vector illustration. Traditional beverage flavourings in wooden bowls flat color object. Tea additives, hot drink ingredients isolated on white background
You voted: The best Indian food in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2019, file photo, people stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon, which has been under pressure from shoppers, brands and lawmakers to crack down on counterfeits on its site, said Monday, May 10, 2021, that it blocked more than 10 billion suspected phony listings last year before any of their offerings could be sold. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Amazon blocked 10 billion listings in counterfeit crackdown

Scammers tried to take advantage of shoppers who were buying more online during the pandemic.

A Mexican tacos food truck, people ordering and waiting their takeaway food
You voted: The best food truck in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

One of the Jetty Island ferry captains waits for boarders as the ferry begins operations for the summer on Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2016 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Port, county to pay Everett for Jetty Island ferry this year

The Port of Everett and Snohomish County plan to make an online system for $3 reservations.

Boeing crash victims’ families push for changes at FAA

Hundreds are demanding the ouster of the agency’s administrator, Stephen Dickson, and others.

fish and chips cartoon
You voted: The best fish and chips in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

Students use a modular skills trainer during class Thursday morning at Edmonds Community College on April 29, 2021.
(Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses Week, from May 6- 12, honors the nation’s caregivers

Local nursing students and faculty say they couldn’t let the pandemic get in the way of their goals.