'737' aircraft bodies still being made, traveling by train

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The worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes has not stopped rail shipments of new fuselages from Kansas to Washington State via BNSF Railway and regional Montana Rail Link.

Boeing has curtailed production of the 737 MAX for the duration of the grounding, which is related to a software glitch in the plane’s flight control system. Boeing is completing 42 aircraft per month, down from 52 before the newest version of the world’s most popular jetliner was grounded in March after crashes that killed 346 people.

Spirit AeroSystems, which manufactures the fuselage and other components at its assembly plant in Wichita, Kan., continues to produce 52 737 MAX fuselages per month under an agreement with Boeing, Spirit executives told an investor conference last month.

A plan to ramp up production to 57 planes per month, which had been scheduled for June, has been postponed indefinitely.

Meanwhile, 737 MAX fuselages continue to be loaded on flatcars in Wichita for the journey to Boeing’s assembly plant in Renton, Wash., via the BNSF-MRL-BNSF routing that has been used for years.

Last year, BNSF and Montana Rail Link celebrated the 10,000th shipment of 737 fuselages.

Boeing says the 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airliner in the company’s history, with 4,700 ordered from more than 100 airlines around the globe.

Boeing has a backlog of more than 4,400 737 orders, which translates into more than seven years worth of production at current rates.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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