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Airbus to Push Ahead With Production Increases as Boeing Lags

Plane maker reports rise in quarterly profit as it delivers more jets despite supply-chain snags

An increase in orders for narrow-body jets including the A321 helped boost Airbus’s third-quarter income. 
Airbus SE plans to ramp up production over the course of next year, despite persistent supply-chain disruption, as the European plane maker extends its lead over rival Boeing Co. BA 0.34%increase; green up pointing triangle in the crucial market for smaller jets.

The Toulouse, France-based company on Friday confirmed plans to lift production of its A320 aircraft to 65 a month by early 2024 from about 50 a month at the end of this year, one of the fastest increases in the company’s history. The move comes as demand for Airbus’s family of A320 narrow-body aircraft outstrips that for Boeing’s rival 737 MAX but also as both plane makers grapple with continuing supply-chain issues.

Airbus has been gaining market share over Boeing since the grounding of the 737 MAX, with the split between the two most popular narrow-body programs at 61-39 in favor of the A320neo as at the end of September, according to an analysis of both companies’ backlogs by research firm Agency Partners.

The market-share split is a closely watched measure in the aerospace duopoly. As Airbus extends its lead, the company is able to produce more aircraft, enabling it to push for better pricing with suppliers that it can use to either boost profitability or undercut pricing from Boeing.

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Boeing’s 737 MAX Output Falls to Lowest Level in Two Years

Deliveries and production of the company’s bestselling jet slowed in September amid snafus at one of its key suppliers

Boeing said it delivered 15 new 737 jets to the world’s airlines in September. Deliveries of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets to customers fell in September to the lowest level in more than two years, laying bare how one of the U.S.’s largest manufacturers is struggling to churn out enough jets to fill the skies.

The company’s operations have been disrupted this year by a series of snafus at one of its key suppliers. The latest problem, discovered in August, is misdrilled holes on the fuselage of its bestselling 737s. As a result, production of the more than $100 million jet—which accounts for the bulk of Boeing’s output— is running at about half the company’s target.

Boeing executives have said that deliveries would slow but that they still expected to meet their targets for the full year. Boeing said earlier this year that it was moving to complete an average of 38 new 737s a month. It made 22 in September, according to data from Aero Analysis Partners/AIR, a research firm.

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Airlines, Regulators Weigh More Cockpit Safety Alerts After Close Calls on Runways

Regulators refocus on alerts that are often unused or still under development, as pilots try to avoid close calls

An Airbus system warns pilots with a screen alert that a runway is too short. PHOTO: AIRBUS
Technology to alert pilots of potential runway crashes is widely available. Audible warnings and text alerts to help avert catastrophe on the tarmac are often standard features on new aircraft.

In many cases those features aren’t turned on.

Regulators have been reluctant to require their use. Some pilot groups have pushed for airlines to adopt such features, but carriers have had doubts about their safety benefits and costs.

“There are solutions right now,” Capt. Steve Jangelis, a top union official in the Air Line Pilots Association, said at a runway-safety forum earlier this year.

The U.S. hasn’t had a major fatal passenger airline crash in 14 years, but runway-safety alerts for pilots are getting renewed attention after a spate of serious close calls at American airports. Industry officials have debated whether inexperienced or fatigued pilots are a factor, or distraction among short-staffed air-traffic controllers.

U.S. air-safety and some industry officials are weighing whether to add more cockpit protections as pilot and air-traffic controller workforces navigate a surge in postpandemic flying, while airlines ramp up reminders to pilots about existing procedures.

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Boeing Cuts 737 Delivery Goal for Year

Aircraft maker posts quarterly loss on production troubles

Boeing employees assemble 787s inside the main assembly building on the campus in North Charleston, S.C. PHOTO: POOL/REUTERS
Boeing BA -0.45%decrease; red down pointing triangle booked a third-quarter loss and lowered delivery goals this year for its 737 MAX jet, which accounts for the bulk of the plane maker’s output.

Boeing lost $1.64 billion in the quarter ended Sept. 30, more than analysts expected, and it reported negative cash flow from its operations. But the company met expectations for sales, and executives kept their full-year and medium-term financial guidance unchanged.

MAX production has been running at about half the company’s target while Boeing and one of its largest suppliers race to fix misdrilled holes on the jet’s fuselage.

“When we set our recovery plans, we knew issues would come up along the way,” Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun wrote in a message to employees. He said improved quality procedures and a culture that rewards speaking up about problems means the company is finding more things in need of repair.

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