With the successful rate increase to 42 737s per month under their belts, employees in the 737 program recently took a short break from building airplanes to celebrate their latest successes.
Local government officials and suppliers from around the world attended the event, and heard how the 737 team simultaneously improved safety and quality while getting ready to build more airplanes each month.
"The past year has been a busy one for the program. You not only worked on increasing production for the third time in four years, you also improved quality and made our site safer," said Beverly Wyse, 737 vice president and general manager.
Wyse cited examples: The team improved customer pickups by 50 percent and reduced the lost work day case rate in final assembly by 30 percent in the last year.
"Improving safety and quality -- two goals at the top of our list -- help increase our productivity," Wyse said. "That's what it takes to stay competitive in the current environment."
The event featured a performance by ILuminate, dancers who perform in the dark to create illuminated characters -- including 737s. A United Airlines airplane formed the stage's backdrop, as Ron Baur, vice president Fleet for United Airlines, joined Wyse.
United will receive the 737 program's 8,000th delivery this week, and Baur emphasized how important quality and reliability are for customers.
"Quality means delivering airplanes on schedule with no defects, not delivering airplanes on time with issues," Baur said.
If airplanes aren't ready to go directly into service when they are delivered, it costs the airline money, disrupts schedules and hurts the reputation of both companies, he said.
Baur's message hit home with Marius Mean of 737 Quality Assurance.
"We have a lot of pride in what we do and we're working to make sure that every plane that comes out is defect-free," Mean said.
Baur also thanked the 737 employees for building more great airplanes.
"As we aggressively replace our older, less efficient airplanes, United Airlines is counting on you to build dependable airplanes, and increasing the rate to 42 airplanes-per-month allows us to do this even faster," said Baur.