Boeing’s new job listing for technicians in Seattle, U.S., where some of the grounded 737 MAX are kept, sends a positive signal of the aircraft’s impending return to service.

On August 20, 2019, Boeing announced job openings in the company’s facility in Moses Lake, Washington (the United States). The plane maker is looking for experienced technicians, offering full-time but temporary employment. 

At the moment, the company’s website lists only two positions in Moses Lake: aircraft test technician and aviation maintenance technician & inspector. However, media reports suggest that the company plans to hire “hundreds” of technicians, mechanics and electricians to assist with 737 MAX maintenance and customer delivery preparation, once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives the green light for aircraft to return to service. 

As Boeing is working on the 737 MAX software update and finalizing the recertification plans, the exact date of MAX return to service remains subject to regulatory approval by aviation safety authorities around the world. 

Boeing anticipates submitting the 737 MAX recertification package in September 2019, while the earliest date on when the aircraft could be approved for passenger service is expected to be the following month ‒ in “early” fourth quarter 2019, the company’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg said at the Jefferies Global Industrials Conference on August 7, 2019.

However, if the recertification is prolonged, Boeing could have to implement “hard” scenarios that include reducing the production rate or even “temporary shut down” of MAX production, Muilenburg also said during the conference. At the moment, the company produces 42 MAXs per month, with hopes to increase the production to 57/month next year. 

Once authorities unground the 737 MAX, all undelivered aircraft stored outside the Puget Sound region will be transferred to Seattle and Everett for delivery to customers, the Seattle Times reported. Moses Lake is to be used as a “staging ground” for maintenance work before deliveries. Since the aircraft have already been stored for five months and unlikely to return to service for another two months, they will need extensive maintenance work and check flights, in addition to installation of the fixed software, as also outlined in the publication. 

Boeing began storing MAXs in Moses Lake, east of Seattle, in June 2019, as it ran out of space at its Puget Sound region facilities. “I can confirm that in addition to our Puget Sound facilities and the Boeing San Antonio site, we will temporarily store airplanes in Moses Lake as part of our inventory management plan,” Paul Bergman, a spokesman for the company, was quoted as saying by the Columbia Basin Herald at the time. 

Before it became the storage space of the grounded 737 MAXs, Moses Lake was rumoured as a possible location of Boeing’s new middle of the market (NMA) aircraft production. However, since the MAX grounding, the manufacturer has refrained from announcing the final decision on whether the company is to build  the new airliner known as the Boeing NMA or 797

READ MORE:
 
The big announcement by Boeing on whether or not it will commit to the new middle of the market aircraft (NMA), dubbed “797”, was expected to be made during the upcoming Paris Air Show. But then, the 737 MAX crisis hit, at which point Boeing ceased communicating any progress of ongoing projects, even on  the 777X. The company’s CEO eventually confessed that they were “making progress” regarding the NMA decision and the timeline of the project has not changed.