Boeing mechanic prepares a part for loading into the automated spar assembly tool at the 737 factory in Renton, Wash. Courtesy, Boeing

Boeing announced it has begun building the first 737NextGens at a rate of 35 aircraft per month, up from 31.5 airplanes a month, to meet demand.

The 737 production rate will increase to 38 a month in the second quarter of 2013 and to 42 a month in the first half of 2014, Boeing said.

Boeing has orders for 310 737s for 17 airlines, according to its orders and deliveries website. It has sold 9,134 737s of all 737 models up to Sept. 30 and has delivered 6,919 up to the same date.

Tuesday it was revealed that China Eastern Airlines (MU) canceled its order for 24 787s and placed a new order for 45 737s (ATW Daily News, Oct. 18).

To prepare for the rate increases, Boeing said it has improved production processes, increased capacity through investments in a new wings system installation line in its Renton, Wash., factory, and made the site footprint more efficient by moving some production areas, expanding others and decommissioning outdated equipment.