Who are Boeings' main suppliers
Boeing's upswing is shaking again
The year started well for Boeing. In January, Europe's aviation authority Easa gave the grounded Boeing 737 Max the green light for a restart. In February 2021, the aircraft manufacturer received more orders than cancellations for the first time in 15 months. There were multiple 737 Max orders in March, the largest from Southwest Airlines for up to 255 jets.
However, Boeing suffered a setback last week. On Friday (April 9th) the manufacturer recommended 16 operators to leave certain Boeing 737 Max on the ground for the time being. The reason is a production problem that affects the aircraft's electrics.
Clamps instead of rivets
Several airlines responded. Southwest Airlines, for example, temporarily took 30 Boeing 737 Max out of service. The low-cost airline is actually ramping up business. Just the day before, he had called thousands of cabin workers back to work.
According to informants from the Seattle Times newspaper, the problem lies in attaching a backup control unit to the electrical system. Instead of using rivets as before, this was now attached with clamps - in such a way that grounding is not always ensured.
Production problems also with 787
Failure to provide a ground connection could cause a number of electrical systems to malfunction, such as the auxiliary power unit. Boeing told the newspaper that the error was noticed during normal production. Inspections are now necessary to check that “there is a sufficient grounding path” for the control unit.
Boeing painfully reminds that this is a production problem that there was not all good news at the start of the year either. With the Boeing 787, the multitude of production problems ensured that the American aviation authority FAA announced in March that it would check and approve at least four Dreamliners itself.
Boeing is contributing money itself
And Boeing could have another problem - with the American suppliers. Tect Aerospace recently went bankrupt. The supplier builds aircraft components for various areas, from the wing and landing gear to the cockpit.
Tect points to “catastrophic financial losses resulting from the suspension of 737 Max production, followed by the impact of Covid-19 on industry production rates”. While Tect is trying to sell its three plants, Boeing is injecting money itself so that production can continue despite the adverse situation.
Hope for further state aid
Boeing had already increased the pressure on suppliers in the years before the crisis. Documents that the Seattle Times could see show that Tect was financially up to its neck even before the Max-Grounding. The fact that Boeing is now landing large orders like the one from Southwest Airlines is good on the one hand, but the discounts for them should be huge on the other. The financial leeway is getting smaller.
The big question is whether other suppliers are at risk. From the point of view of Bill Alderman, President of the investment bank Alderman & Co., this depends on further government aid and the recovery of the industry. He told the newspaper that there will be more cases like Tect, "if the US government does not provide more liquidity to the supply chain and if there is no major increase in aircraft production in the near future."
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