Boeing (BOE, Washington National) has confirmed it is in talks to reacquire Spirit AeroSystems, the sole manufacturer of B737 MAX fuselages and one of Boeing's most critical suppliers, in a bid to address serious quality issues.

"We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems' manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders," the US manufacturer said after the talks were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The Wichita-based supplier confirmed that talks were ongoing, although neither party disclosed any details.

Some of the many quality issues affecting the B737 MAX family have originated at Spirit AeroSystems, including the recent incorrect hole-boring incident.

While more than 60% of Spirit AeroSystems' revenue comes from various Boeing contracts - which also include components for the B767, B777, and B787 programmes - it also has extensive contracts with its main rival, Airbus. Reuters reported that the Europeans have explored a potential buyout of Spirit's plant in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the company builds A220 wings.

Boeing sold Spirit AeroSystems to Onex Corp. for around USD1.2 billion in 2005. Since then, the supplier has listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is currently owned by a diversified pool of small shareholders, with no single entity holding more than 10% of its shares.

Meanwhile, Reuters says Boeing told its suppliers that it would not be increasing its B737 MAX production rate from the current 38 per month to 42 before June 2024. The rate hike was previously planned for February 2024. However, multiple reports indicate that Boeing is struggling to meet even the published rate of 38 MAX per month and, in any case, is barred from any further increases by the FAA until it addresses quality issues.

According to the supplier master schedule, Boeing hopes to increase the rate to 47 MAX per month by January 2025, although previously, it planned this for August 2024. The move from 47 to 52 per month has been deferred from February 2025 to June 2025, and the return to the pre-pandemic rate of 57 units per month has slipped from August 2025 to February 2026.