Boeing considers halting 737 MAX production

Thiago B. Trevisan

Boeing could make a decision on December 16, 2019, regarding either a reduction of the Boeing 737 MAX production output or a complete suspension, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said recertification would not happen before the first quarter of 2020.

Nine months ago, Boeing’s best-seller was banned from flying by aviation authorities after two crashes that killed 346 people. The manufacturer had progressively reduced the production output from 52 Boeing 737 MAX per month to the current 42. However, without deliveries, the planes have started to accumulate: 400 aircraft have been assembled since March 2019, a value of $20 billion at list price.

Boeing said it “will continue to assess production decisions based on the timing and conditions of return to service, which will be based on regulatory approvals and may vary by jurisdiction.” A two-day meeting of the board of directors is expected on December 16, 2019, to take a decision on the production of the controversial airliner. According to the Seattle Times, a complete shutdown of the Renton Final Assembly Line is likely. While some of the 12,000-strong workforce could be redistributed among the other facilities, some employees could face technical unemployment.

A week before, the FAA chief Steve Dickson had confirmed the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX would not take place before 2020. Most pessimistic prognosis say it could take place in March. The FAA also committed to conduct a thorough investigation of the production conditions at Renton assembly line in Washington following reports from Edward Pierson, the former director of the factory. Auditioned by the Congress, Pierson said he was “gravely concerned that the dysfunctional production conditions may have contributed to the tragic 737 MAX crashes”.

On December 12, 2019, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) released an update announcing it is pulling 737 MAX flights from schedule through April 7, 2020. Southwest, American and United Airlines had previously scheduled flights without the use of the jet until early March 2020, but will now likely follow American’s lead and push back the date once again.

 

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