Boeing may dial up Renton production

Boeing is studying whether it makes sense to dial up the production rate for 737 airliners at its Renton plant to 40 a month.

The company, which now produces about 31 of the twin-engine planes monthly in Renton, already is committed to raising the pace to 35.

But Boeing Chief Financial Officer James Bell told analysts this week that while a case could be made for raising the production rate further, there are downsides to that decision. “There’s a whole lot of things that make me nervous about 40,” he said.

Those range from the costs of raising the production level not only at Boeing but also at its suppliers. Then there is the issue of hiring and training new workers. That’s an expensive proposition, especially if demand flags and those workers have to be laid off. On the positive side , raising production rates would raise Boeing’s revenue, and, if done right, its profits.

More airplanes out the door would make Boeing competitive with its rival Airbus, which is also raising production levels for its rival A320 aircraft.