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Boeing Delivers 64 Commercial Airplanes in August

In the first eight months of 2015, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has delivered 503 commercial aircraft to its customers. In August, the company delivered 64 planes, including 14 of its 787 Dreamliners. So far this year, Boeing has delivered 90 Dreamliners, and with four months left needs to deliver just 30 to make its projected goal of 120 new 787s delivered in 2015.

Of the 64 planes delivered last month, 38 were single-aisle 737s and nine were 777s, including two freighters. Boeing delivered two 747s and one 767, in addition to the 14 Dreamliners.

The number of 737s delivered in August is about 10% short of the company’s current build rate of 42 a month. As usual, Boeing offers no explanation, but at least one analyst is saying that Boeing may not have enough orders for the current model of the 737 to fill its production slots until the new 737 MAX hits full production, now scheduled for 2018.

Richard Aboulafia of research firm The Teal Group said last year that Boeing’s aggressive production rate increases for the 737 could be untenable. The company plans to raise production to 47 of the single-aisle planes in 2017, ramping to 52 a month in 2018.

Wednesday, Aboulafia told the Puget Sound Business Journal:

I never expected them to bridge the gap (between the [current version] NG and the Max), but they did. But they kept raising the maximum target rate for ramp. That’s hubris.

In Boeing’s favor: orders for 2,899 of the older models of the plane and 2,869 for the MAX version. The trick for the company is to make the transition and production ramp smoothly. So far, the company says, everything is working fine:

We are on track to complete the bridge from the Next Generation 737 to the 737 Max well ahead of the schedule required to ensure a smooth transition between the two airplanes toward the end of the decade.

Bridging production of Boeing’s 777 to the new 777X is another issue that has caused some concern among investors. That transition is expected to begin in 2018 and be completed by 2020. Boeing’s current production rate on the 777 is 8.3 per month (about 100 per year). To date in 2015, Boeing has delivered 66 777s, right on the company’s target.

By Paul Ausick