By Valérie Insinna
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing said on Tuesday it delivered 27 planes in January, a 29 percent drop from the same month last year, as regulators, lawmakers and customers put pressure on the maker after the cabin panel explosion in flight of the MAX 9 last month.
Deliveries of the lucrative 737 MAX fell to just 25 aircraft after two strong months in which Boeing delivered more than 40 MAXs. While deliveries tend to be slower in January, Boeing delivered 38 planes, including 35 MAXs, in January 2023.
The American aircraft manufacturer recorded three gross orders, its lowest total since 2019, after a successful December. It said its customers had not identified canceled orders for two 737 MAXs, while Spanish carrier Air Europa canceled an order for a 787 Dreamliner.
Airbus, Boeing’s European rival, delivered 30 planes in January and announced 31 new orders.
Boeing has worked to explain and strengthen its safety procedures after a Jan. 5 accident involving a door stopper on a brand-new Alaska Airlines MAX 9 that came loose during flight. In response, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded the MAX 9 for several weeks last month and capped Boeing’s production of the MAX while it conducted an audit of the aircraft maker’s manufacturing process.
This month, Boeing supplier Spirit Aerosystems discovered a new quality problem. Spirit improperly drilled holes in the window frames of some 737s, potentially slowing deliveries of around 50 planes.
In addition to the 737 MAX deliveries, Boeing delivered a 787 Dreamliner and a 767 widebody, which will be transformed into a KC-46 air tanker for the US Air Force.
Boeing’s order backlog increased from 5,626 to 5,599 aircraft as of January 31. It has a total of 6,189 orders in backlog, excluding accounting adjustments.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said in a Jan. 31 conference call that the company would not release aircraft delivery targets for 2024 as it navigates the current crisis.
“We’re just going to focus on every next aircraft and making sure we meet all the standards that are in place, all the standards imposed by our regulator and those required by our customers,” he said.
Airplane manufacturers typically deliver about the same number of planes produced in a given month, but Boeing has dozens of 737s and 787s that were stored due to the MAX crisis in 2018-2019 or which must be reworked to correct production defects. Boeing executives have said the company expects to deliver most of those planes into storage by the end of 2024.
(Reporting by Valérie Insinna; editing by David Gregorio)
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