Boeing's B737 rate hike

I just read a very good comment from Richard Aboulafia regarding the rate hike for the B737MAX announced by Boeing last week.
I think he is right. The possibility that this rate hike will NOT be executed is higher than the possibility that we will really see the hike. Aboulafia points out several reasons why that is.
And there is another one (at least in my mind): and that is the fast pace that Boeing wants to transition from the B737NG to the B737MAX. The article by Dominic Gates points out that by 2018 when the rate hike would be kicking in the output of the B737MAX would reach 26 aircraft a month, thus 50% of the production. And another article at Flightglobal states that the last B737NG will be delivered to Ryanair in the second quarter of 2019. So the plan is to transition from the NG to the MAX in less than two years. This has two consequences:
  1. I often wrote about how many B737NG orders Boeing would need to fill the B737NG production slots until the B737MAX will take over full production. I assumed that the transition will take place in a similar manner than Airbus plans it for the A320. The hast A320ceo will be delivered in 2018, almost three years after the first delivery of the A320neo. Now if Boeing cuts the transition time to under two years, a lot less open B737NG production slots have to be filled. In a first guess I would say about 250.
  2. There is a big challenge for all B737MAX suppliers which have to produce parts that changed for the B737MAX compared to the B737NG design. The one supplier that will be most challenged is CFM (and CFM's suppliers as well). They have to handle the ramp up of the LEAP-1A for the A320neo and the LEAP-1B for the B737MAX almost simultaneously.
Airbus is in a little bit better situation as they have to engine suppliers, so the risk is not that big. The first engine (PW1100G) ís already flying on the first A320neo, the second one (LEAP-1A) is due to fly in late October/early November. Although the date for the first flight on GE's flying test bed for the LEAP-1A and the "sister engine" LEAP-1C (for the C919) seems to have already slipped more than one time. Originally the LEAP-1C should have had first flight in May, then later in the summer, the early September and then late September. It is now early October and I haven't seen a press release (and I fully expect one) nor have I seen N747GE (fitted with the LEAP-1C) flying on flightradar. Let's see if N747GF (with the LEAP-1A) will take to the skies in the next four weeks...